Gifted and Learning Disabled (twice as weird, with extra fun)

by: plf515

Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:47:11 AM EST



Anyone who thinks about it knows that you can be disabled and gifted.  But anyone who's disabled can tell you that a lot of people don't think.  Otherwise, why would people talk louder to people in wheelchairs?  Leg bone connected to the ear bone?

But what if your disability is related to .... your BRAIN?  Like mine is.  I'm learning disabled.  Well, TECHNICALLY, my label is MINIMAL BRAIN DYSFUNCTION.  (DYS?  WTF? That's just to make life harder for the dyslexic folk out there).  But the label that fits me best is probably NLD.  Nonverbal learning disorder.  That is, I have problems with things that are NON verbal.  Well, except, the expert on NLD says I am not supposed to have a sense of humor.  OOPS!  Where do I go to return it?

Anyway, I'm learning disabled.  Or my brain is dysfunctional.  Something's wrong, and whatever it is is related to my brain.  AND I'M GIFTED.  Gosh!  You mean my brain works too well AND too badly???? At the same time?  Yup.

But a lot of people don't believe it.  I guess those people think everyone who is fat has to be tall.  (shhhh!  No sense of humor!).

It confuses people.  It sure as heck confused the psychologist who told my parents when I was 5 that I would never go to college.  'Cause, you see, I got my BA when I was 20, having skipped a year of HS and done college in 3 years.

Whatever you think of IQ tests (personally, I think they can be useful but are easy to abuse) my results are odd.  Long ago, on a WISC (that's Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children) I got subtest scores from 60 to 160.  More recently, in grad school (hey!  I wasn't supposed to go to college!  What's with grad school? Bad boy!)  I helped out a friend who was studying to be able to give the WAIS (ah ha! Wechsler Adult Instelligence Scales.  Shouldn't it be WISA?)  I got subtest scores from 70 to unscored, because she didn't know what to do when I answered some arithmetic questions before she finished asking them (well, I just figured the question, then the answer! Doesn't everyone do that?).

Now, if your whole IQ is 70, you're probably going to have some problems in life.  And if your whole IQ is 170, you are probably going to have some problems in life.  And if some of your IQ is 70 and some is 170..... well, life is just going to be smooth sailing, all the way!  (Just checking to see if you were paying attention!)

OK, I know a lot of people don't like IQ tests.  I happen to know quite a bit about them (my PhD is in psychometrics, that's the study of measurement of psychological traits) but this diary is not about their merits or demerits (and let's not get into that in the comments.... if you want my thoughts on them, I'd be glad to write another diary).

What do people say when you tell them that you are learning disabled AND good at reading and math?  Different people react different ways:

1) "You can't be LD, you're so bright!"     IOW "you can't be fat, you're so tall!"

2) "You can't be LD and gifted"    IOW "No one who is tall can be fat."

3)  "All LDs involve reading or math" IOW "Children know everything adults do, except how to read and do math"

4) "How can that be?" or "What are your LD?" or something similar.  IOW "Hey! Maybe Peter knows more about being Peter than I do!  I might learn something.  Cool"

I'll assume that you've all done something in the 4 vein.  

What are my LD?  An easy way to summarize them is that I'm bad at anything involving time or space.  But that summary might not help much.  

Things involving time subdivides into two categories:
a) When things happened
b) How long things take to happen

I am bad at both.  Some examples of the first:

As an adolescent, I was hit by a car and I had an operation on my eyes.  I don't remember when exactly either of them happened.  

As an adult, I got a PhD and  became a father for the first time.  I have to THINK to be able to tell which happened first, it's not intuitive.  I remember the date of my PhD (1999) and my older son's birthday (1996) so.... child first!

Some examples of the second:  I have no intuitive sense of how long it takes to do things, unless I've done them MANY times before.  Like a dozen times.  And, if I haven't done it in a while, I forget.  I've been from my apartment to LaGuardia airport a lot.  But not for a while.  Err.... half an hour? An hour?

How long will it take me to walk to my son's school?  I've done it a lot.  But I have to figure it out:  It's about a mile.  That's about 20 blocks.  I walk about a minute a block, and voila!

On to space!
I don't remember where I put things.  AT ALL.   I know, a lot of people will say this, but with me, it's extreme, and it happens a lot.  Like, one day, I came home carrying a cup of juice.  I had to go to the bathroom, so I put the juice down.  Then I peed.  Then I looked for the juice.  For 10 minutes.  Our apartment isn't that large!

I don't recognize people.  (I can remember names much better than faces; for example, I remember the names of people I went to HS with, but not their faces).  Once, I ran into my father on the street.  I looked at him.  30 seconds later: Oh Hi Dad!

I can't give directions.  Turn uhhhhh. left? right?  ummm one of those!

I don't remember what is where.  One time, I asked my wife if we had a toaster oven.  She said "Yeah, it's next  to the coffee maker you use every morning"  (I looked, and there it was!).  

So, can you be gifted and learning disabled?  You bet you can.  I am.  

I'll try to answer questions.  

plf515 :: Gifted and Learning Disabled (twice as weird, with extra fun)
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Not a question so much as a comment (2.00 / 19)
Do you run into this when you describe your symptoms: "Well everyone does that sometimes?"

I run into that a lot with Kidlet. Every challenge she faces are things that everyone faces occasionally. For her the issue is degree, frequency and combination.

As far as labeling your disorder, I've got a diary going up on labels (their importance to accessing services and their unfortunate consequence of boxing us in) once I complete some diagnostics I'm doing right now so my label can be affixed officially enough for me to go all ADA on my work.

Enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.

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I run into that a LOT! (2.00 / 19)
But then I mention not recognizing my father; or getting lost frequently on the way to class in grad school (FREQUENTLY); or not knowing what color my room is; or not remembering where the sun rises.

Most people don't do THOSE things.

I look forward to your diary. Labels can be useful; boxes are for groceries.  

"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter


[ Parent ]
Agree completely, iriti. (2.00 / 18)
In public school, getting you kid classified opens the door to a lot of important services, but it also puts him/her in a bit of a box as well. When I was on the school board, we dealt with some students who were both seriously disabled and profoundly gifted. It is a challenge.  

[ Parent ]
Wonderful diary (2.00 / 19)
I get what you mean. Granted, I have a good sense of direction. I also remember faces. Names? Not so much...if ever. However, I spent my life being a tad hard of hearing. My disability is invisible, more or less. Most of the time, I hear half of what is said and my wonderful (not) brain fills in the sounds I missed. Those aren't even whole words that I miss. I miss parts of words. Like a blind spot, the brain fills in what it "thinks" is correct. It leads to hearing bizarre things and then people accuse me of not listening. It's not the end of my world, but it gets frustrating.

My ex husband was/is in a wheelchair. You hit that one out of the ballpark in your opening.

Thank you for your diary. :)




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This is really interesting (2.00 / 16)
I had no idea that things involving time like that could be a learning disability.  

For me, although I've never had any formal testing/diagnosis, I know I have problems in 2 areas - number dyslexia, and spatial reference.

Number dyslexia I noticed when I was a cashier.  I would frequently tell people the wrong total; like $7.94 or $4.79 instead of $7.49.  The funny thing is, the register didn't calculate the change, so that was always calculated in the head & counted back to the customer, and I always got it right; it seems the issue is more with saying the numbers than with reading them.

The spatial thing....  I have no concept of sizes or 3d models.  How long is our towel rack?  uhhh, no clue.  How to best arrange stuff in the dishwasher so it all fits?  I can get a few plates and glasses in there, that's about it.  Games like Portal give me a headache.  Puzzles that involve 3D space?  Nope, can't do them.  Flat, 2d space like Tetris is OK (so long as you don't ask me how big the bricks are).


Yup (2.00 / 11)
I got laughed at by the tester once when I scored off the charts on verbal and down around zero on spatial. I was having myself tested as an adult. Hmmm, I have a videotape of the interview for that session, and a book by the founder of the company.... must check.

In high school I did plane geometry proofs almost 100% the whole year but when I saw the solid geometry textbook I dropped out and took typing.

I can fit things in like a champ, my living room is full to the inch, I know how big the little things are, but distances out in the world... 10 ft.? 20 ft.? I have no idea.

Now you've got me started. I'd better stop.

Let there be light. Then let there be a cat, a cocktail, and a good book.


[ Parent ]
Yup (2.00 / 6)
I got laughed at by the tester once when I scored off the charts on verbal and down around zero on spatial. I was having myself tested as an adult. Hmmm, I have a videotape of the interview for that session, and a book by the founder of the company.... must check.

In high school I did plane geometry proofs almost 100% the whole year but when I saw the solid geometry textbook I dropped out and took typing.

I can fit things in like a champ, my living room is full to the inch, I know how big the little things are, but distances out in the world... 10 ft.? 20 ft.? I have no idea.

Now you've got me started. I'd better stop.

Let there be light. Then let there be a cat, a cocktail, and a good book.


[ Parent ]
Ummmm... (2.00 / 4)
could somebody delete that extra post? I'm sure it has something to do with the topic at hand...

I had six spatial-perception-related minor accidents during the first few years I had my driver's license. I finally caught on but my dad almost despaired of me.

Let there be light. Then let there be a cat, a cocktail, and a good book.


[ Parent ]
My hero list keeps growing (2.00 / 11)
 It seems perception is always the real stigma, and you've proved a lot of people's perceptions are more an example of learning disability than your own.
It actually looks more like you are time disabled rather than learning disabled. Time is a tricky thing. The Einsteins are still working it out.You might just be a time traveler, and have forgotten. I know,I know, I have a warped sense of humor.
As an old man, I suffer from some of your traits, but I can blame it all on what my kids did to me...Thanks for a well written post, and another learning experience.
 

Hero list? gee! I'm no hero. n/t (2.00 / 6)


"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter

[ Parent ]
Yes, what you said! (2.00 / 9)
I still haven't figured out my dys/functions.

I was finally at about age 55 dx'd with ADD. That partly explains

-Why I learned bridge at an early age, couldn't play because couldn't track what had been bid or played
-Why I never practiced between dancing classes because I couldn't remember any of the steps
-Why I get lost a lot, and when I'm tired I can get lost in familiar places
-Why I can't connect music with the name of the piece or (usually) the composer unless it's the Beatles or Gershwin
-Why I gotta work in a job where I can get up and walk around whenever I want

My IQ was tested at about 150 when I was little. Can you say She isn't living up to her potential?

My career has been, as they say, checkered because of all this. As for the getting lost, my mother had the same thing and used to say "My bump of direction is a dimple."



Let there be light. Then let there be a cat, a cocktail, and a good book.


What I hated was "Peter would do better if he applied himself" (2.00 / 6)
always made me want to apply my fist to a face.  

"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter

[ Parent ]
Fantastic diary! (2.00 / 8)
I have some thoughts on it, but I'm a bit scattered the moment and will have to come back to reply again later. I did want to say... I have never been diagnosed with a learning disability (I have plenty of other diagnoses, however). But some of what you talked about felt REMARKABLY familiar.

This:

Things involving time subdivides into two categories:
a) When things happened
b) How long things take to happen

and this:

I don't recognize people.  

Actually, my problem here is that people look kind of alike to me. ALL the time, I find myself seeing some random person and wondering, "Is that so and so??? It could be...kind of looks like him/her... but surely if I REALLY saw him/her I'd know for sure?"

I can't give directions.  Turn uhhhhh. left? right?  ummm one of those!

I can't give them or take them. I drive on auto-pilot... by sight and "feel" -- I can't tell someone how to get somewhere, and I don't follow directions very effectively either.

I don't remember what is where.  One time, I asked my wife if we had a toaster oven.  She said "Yeah, it's next  to the coffee maker you use every morning"  (I looked, and there it was!).  

I have similar problems. In my case, I just don't notice things at all though. I will walk past the same painting or statue every day for a year and never notice it until someone points it out to me. Then I'm all "Ohhhhh, yeah that's nice." My loved ones call this trait "tunnel vision." People less fond of me call it "airheaded" or "ditzy" or the like.

Plenty of other quirks/problems on this end, but I don't think there's a proper name for them. ; )

Come to me in my dreams, and then
By day I shall be well again!
For so the night will more than pay
The hopeless longing of the day.


plf, thanks for sharing this here (2.00 / 6)
my son, my beautiful wonderful son, my adhd aspy son.  

has a new shrink.  she says "why do you call him aspy?"

i say "because his diagnosis is pddnos, he has never been tested for autism, and because a few years ago, i decided to treat/manage the symptoms and that is the closest label that fits."

tomorrow night we go to open house for junior high.  

he wants so badly to belong.  


And how would you pronounce PDDNOS anyway? (2.00 / 5)
Besides which, it doesn't mean much of anything useful:

Pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified

Wow. That's SOOOOOOO helpful isn't it?

I hope he has a better time in JHS than I did.  

"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter


[ Parent ]
he is accepted into the gifted program (2.00 / 5)
so his core academic classes will be with a "cohort" and then he will be with the general population for PE and stuff.  i am hoping he will be attracted to some extra-curricular activities.  

[ Parent ]
Oh, 2e! I know that feeling! nt (2.00 / 3)


"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter

[ Parent ]
(i think it was last week) (2.00 / 5)
...just as i was preparing to head for work, backing out the driveway, i rushed back into the house -- suddenly remebering I had to do something. what? apparently, i had forgotten to put a t-shirt in the freezer.

??????????????????

that's what i did. why? i have no idea, but i started reading louis l'amour in my dad's lap when i was two. he wanted to toss me into harvard as a little kid, but my mom wouldn't have it (said i'd never have a normal life).  one of my earliest memories is one of my grandmother teaching me to spell the words 'incredible' and 'washington'. i was a member of mensa, but only long enough to learn that paying the dues for it was pretty stupid. i've registered both low and crazy high iq scores. when i was around five, a physcholgist taught me to play chess. hated it (and still do).

if this comment had a point, i've forgotten it.  

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey
 


If all comments had to have a specific point (2.00 / 3)
the internet would lose 90% of its traffic.  

And not the least interesting 90%

"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter


[ Parent ]
Thanks for sharing this.... (2.00 / 2)
So sad how often professionals want to believe the disability defines the person...no actually as my daughter says nothing defines me, but me. So says she with her all her challenges via her communication board and sign language.

I've never been diagnosed with a learning disability, but I always had to study hard, go over notes on my own. Being in a classroom overwhelms me. If I can just have the material and go off on my own, I can figure it out. I was a Jr in college before a prof suggested me as a volunteer for study about learning styles.

I'm self taught in the majority of the craft work I do. Just let me have a video or a book, let me research on my own. A classroom or group setting distracts me so badly. Sometimes it's emotional--i.e I just know everyone is judging me and sometimes it's me catching the butterfly going by the window or the chick playing with her earrings with her pen...I just zone out. When I was working I had to learn how to go off on my own daily to decompress and figure out whatever I had going on...I'm pretty good at doing it quickly, but I have to be in a quiet place alone or something like a cubicle in library  to settle down and sort out the information in my head.  

"A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle"...."We make a Living by what we get...We make a Life by what we give."  


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