Self-discovery: I have a learning disability!


After teaching for over 30 years, I was diagnosed with two learning disabilities.  What?  How can that be?  I have two degrees, have written five textbooks, do curriculum work, and teach 20 different subjects.

I was in a class to learn about disabilities and the teacher gave us a little test.  It was a simple test, but it certainly opened my eyes. The test measures the student’s ability to learn in four parameters:  hearing,visually, reading, and tactile.

I scored a 0 in hearing, a 1 in reading, and did evenly in visual and tactile.  I could that be?  I am a major in English language and literature!  I have taken all my master classes at the university and received A’s.

My teacher said usually the best teachers are the ones who had to overcome some obstacle in order to learn.  She was right about that.  I had a tough time in high school and in college.  I could not memorize, I could not just sit and listen to the teacher and learn anything, and when I read, I had to reread, reread, and reread.

Eventually I overcame the disability of hearing and learning and reading and learning by studying the only way I could learn.  I would take copious notes, underline the text, make up quizzes to take, reread, and outline the tough parts.  By doing this, I learned to pass the tests.

It took me longer to learn than anyone else, but in the end, I really knew what I had learned.  I felt stupid and didn’t know why everything was so hard for me.  Somehow, I muddled through high school.

College classes were also difficult because of my disabilities, but no one noticed.  I took many notes, bought used texts that had answers written in the margins or footnotes, reread each assignment several times, made up my own quizzes, etc.  I had roommates who would ask me questions about the work.  That also helped.

I’m writing about this today in hopes that someone out there who is struggling with the learning process understands that not all is lost.  There is hope for you, too.  Over compensate.  Over read.  Take lots of notes, etc.  You can become your own teacher!

If you are a parent, make sure your child can understand what he/she reads.  Also check the hearing and learning by telling the child something to do, put something in order, etc. and see how much he/she struggles with that.  Stand up lecturing is not good for that type of learner.  Unfortunately, many classes are taught in that manner.  See what else is available.

No one caught my two disabilities and I went all the way through graduate school.  Don’t make your child struggle if he/she doesn’t have to do so.  Help with homework.  Question the teacher about your child’s learning style.  There are instruments that test this in our children.

Finally, be an alert parent.  Seek help when needed for your child.  Be informed, and be on top of your child’s progress in school.



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