Archive for the ‘academic advising’ Category

Blurry Social Confusion

July 17, 2009

I agonize over many of my social decisions–like whether to contact someone or wait to be contacted.  Or how to convey my reactions.  Sometimes I get very depressed because I just don’t know what to do, and I don’t have anyone in my life I can ask, except for my therapist.  She is wonderful and very good at explaining and translating the social messages I have trouble putting together, but I obviously can’t ask about every little thing, and sometimes I have to make a social decision before I can talk about it with her.

Sometimes I’m not sure I know what I don’t understand.  All I know is I’m unsure of the exact social dynamics, much less how to respond.  I’m not sure what to say or do, or of my exact role.  Even though I’ve spent years learning–in countless situations–about boundaries.  My therapist makes sure we always talk about the boundaries of every important relationship.  This helps and is very practical, but my emotional reactions are on lag-time, so I experience delayed emotional feelings about things that already happened.

Lag-time is worse, as one likely anticipates, in the case of negative experiences or trauma.  To people who don’t know, it probably looks like over-reacting, but it’s all I know.  It’s my left hemisphere trying to help out the right hemisphere, and it exhausts me.  Not being able to control the execution of my social messages is also depressing.  When I write, I feel very in control of what I say, but in-person, I’m at a loss.  Gaze aversion causes me to appear avoidant, as I unsucessfully fight nervousness.  When I do make eye contact, it tends to be extreme: fleeting or overly intense.

It is very hard to have an LD that impacts verbal communication.  Thus it is imperative to have compassion.  When conversing with someone you know has NLD, don’t act like we’re clueless, but rather ask for our thoughts.  Remember that we will likely want to expand in written form later, and that our speech may be hesitant.  We may not show a wide range of emotions, but we do experience them, and we are very perceptive, observant, and creative.  We have diverse interests and hobbies.  One person’s hobby is not everyone’s.  The same goes for NLD.

Please make sure to give those with NLD the space to communicate in the ways that are best for us individually.  Let us express ourselves in peaceful, comfortable ways, and much of our anxiety will begin to dissipate, creating a way for us to say what we think and feel.

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NLD: A Math-Impacting Learning Disability

July 9, 2009

As many people already know, NLD causes difficulties learning math.  Sometimes it’s impossible.  I was diagnosed late and raised by math-loving parents who assumed that because I am musically talented, I must automatically be good at all my academic subjects.  What a myth. They said I had an attitude problem when I didn’t get algebra the first time around.

Before that, I struggled with arithmetic, pre-algebra, and geometry.  I ended up repeating algebra three times (both due to not getting it the first time and needing to review the skills because I don’t practice math much, just as someone with reading disabilities tends not to read as much/often as someone without them).  Then I took a very watered-down basic geometry class so I would be accepted to the university I worked so hard to transfer to (I wanted to attend an excellent school because I’ve spent so many years needing to prove my intelligence and having the degree on paper sometimes helps, but not as often as one could wish; plus I’m not a school-name-dropper; if I’d felt like my intelligence was credited throughout my life, I wouldn’t be so obsessed with being admitted to the best schools, but that’s another topic).

Then I took Algebra II, which went fine because it’s so tied into Algebra I, and my professor was very good at explaining things in easy-to-understand ways.  Unfortunately, now my future department wants all students to take a statistics course.  I’ve dropped the class twice because I don’t understand things fast enough, or at all.  Many times people think not getting math is a decision, as if we choose to dislike it.  This isn’t true.

When someone doesn’t understand a basic academic subject, it’s painful.  We would like nothing more than to confidently write problems on the chalk board, but NLD makes this experience unlikely.  My former professor was walking around looking at our notes.  When he looked at mine, he stepped back, as if to say “what the heck is this.”  Sigh.  I tried to get good at math many times, but it’s never worked out.  I hope my department will approve a course substitution.

Too often, math-disability literature doesn’t focus on the college years.  This is a big problem, since nearly all colleges require students to take some math or math-related courses.  I hope that talking about this helps someone else.  I’ll let you know what happens with my department.  There have been worse problems in life, and this one ought to be fixable.  Let’s hope so.  Thanks for reading about this, and if you have ideas, please comment.  More later.

NLD and Environmental Confusion

June 23, 2009

In my two days of being back in school, I’ve had a chance to remember some of the issues I struggled with growing up, and still do as an adult student.  My class has about 30 people, and our professor is very experienced and focused on conceptual statistics.  Thankfully we don’t need to learn about statistical computer programs (plus, they don’t do much good if you don’t understand how to apply the concepts).  Also, computers are very conducive to distractability for me.  I use them for research, but also for fun–reading the news, celebrity gossip, watching re-runs, and of course checking email (and now blogging, obviously).  I need to look at the teacher 90% of the time to pick up whatever nonverbal cues I can.

Lately, NLD reminds me of two hypothetical situations.  The first is waking up in a surprise foreign country where you don’t speak the language, but have no choice except to stumble through broken words.  The second is giving someone with no musical training or acuity sheet music for a song they’ve never heard, and expecting them to perform it.  In both these situations, mistakes would be inevitable and common, but understandable.  I don’t feel this lost all the time, or in every situation, but I do feel lost often.  Unfortunately, NLD is misunderstood, even though our confusion is completely justified.

NLD and Math Anxiety

June 18, 2009

I could write at length about this topic, but I won’t just yet.  I won’t be online that much for the next month, because my required stats course begins in just 4 days.  I will have tutoring that the university provides free to all students, twice a week.  The course meets four days a week.  I must get a “C” or higher.  I’m still going to blog in the future, but not as much until this class ends in July.  I will respond to messages, too.  Thanks.

University of Michigan’s NLD article

June 8, 2009

For anyone reading this who may not know what NLD is, I found a website (updated in 2008) that provides a quick outline:

http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/nld.htm.

Just wanted to make sure this blog has a link to a medical description.