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.