15 Feb

Having Dyscalculia is like living in a world where numbers are everywhere, and it does not make sense. Math is the official language and I struggle to speak and comprehend it. Many people seem to have mastered this language and cannot understand why I cannot get it. People will say that I do not look disabled. Others have never heard of it and think I must have Dyslexia and cannot read.  I struggle with the basic math concepts, but my difficulties with this go beyond the classroom. I have difficulty with them at school, in the community, and at home.

School was my main source of struggle with math. I was officially diagnosed in kindergarten when my teacher saw that I was struggling academically and socially. I was having difficulties with counting and simple math. After I was diagnosed, I had to repeat Kindergarten the following year in a new school and began to receive specialty instruction. I had Learning Support Math all throughout my school years. I have trouble with understanding how numbers work. I get lost in the steps of solving a problem. I spent hours reviewing flash cards and still do not know my addition, subtraction, and multiplication facts by heart. Despite multiple interventions I am unable to read the face of a clock and need a digital watch to tell time.  Using a calculator does little to help me. I can put the numbers in the device, but if I get lost in the steps, I will get the wrong answer. 

I also struggle with this at home as well. Simple tasks such as budgeting are difficult for me. My husband is better at calculating the numbers and I am good at finding the deals. Online shopping is also helpful to see how much I am spending in a virtual cart.  I am also unable to measure. I am unable to know how big or small something is. I cannot figure out what size curtains or tablecloth I need.  Using a ruler is impossible for me. I can see the numbers and the lines, but it makes no sense to me.

I struggle in the community with not being able to total items in the store. When I get to the register it is a surprise what I am spending. I have a better understanding when I use cash, rather than a debit or credit card. I can see the dollars and change needed and can get a better understanding. Cards are more of an abstract concept where I visualize what is happening. I am also not able to calculate a tip.

Directional concepts of north, south, west, and east make no sense to me. I also confuse my left from my right. Not mastering these skills and having an additional visual depth perception disability, makes driving unsafe. The small town that I live in is designed for people who drive. I live in a central location that has a few basics in the vicinity that I live. There is a limited bus service, but it does not travel to rural areas in the community. I have used Para transit services for people with disabilities but found the service to be ineffective. The bus was either late or early. I also had times when the bus forgot to pick me up and I was left scrambling for a ride at the last minute. I am lucky that my husband can take me to work or wherever else that I need to go. I also have great coworkers who can give me a ride home at the end of the day.

Our culture has created a society that is designed for a neurotypical person. My brain is wired differently and most likely will not make sense to me. No matter how hard I try to understand the language and customs of a culture built on math, I will not be able to comprehend how they work. Not having these skills affects me at school and in the community.  I simply must find new ways to perform seemingly easy tasks in a world not created for me.

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