My big confession today is that I love math. I didn’t do well learning the multiplication tables, and to tell the truth I still have to recalculate the addition of a single digit to many numbers. But mathematics I love.
You’d think that I would have been terribly frustrated, but what happened was really quite simple. I learned to make calculations very rapidly, so although I couldn’t count on the learned knowledge that 77 and 8 were 84, I could count eight up from 77 and find that in fact, it’s 85. And I could do that quickly enough that I seemed to be rather slow, but not incapable.
What I loved about math was that, while I couldn’t seem to file all those addition and multiplication results away for instant recall, I damned well understood when to do what and could figure out how to solve a problem faster than most. So by the time others got to the actual calculations I was already well ahead.
Yes they would pass me usually, but I’d still finish. And I knew I was okay.
Okay, okay. I was not okay. I was pretty sure there was something wrong with me. But I suffered that knowledge in silence and as I got older and wiser, I realized that we were getting away from the stuff where I had to know the “memory work” and concentrating on the good stuff, problem solving. I still count to add sometimes, though now I am capable of remembering my additions and my multiplications, if I am able to focus.
So at some point in my life, I ended up in college studying computer programming. And guess what? Computer programming is more about math than it is about computers doing things like graphics and word processing. In fact, computer programming is the act of reducing graphics and words, and even sound, to numbers, and then manipulating those numbers.
But I didn’t need to manipulate those numbers, I just needed to know what needed to be done with them, what was required. Why would I need to manipulate them? I had a computer for that.
Guess what I have?
It wasn’t until I started studying ADHD and it’s broad spectrum of effects and symptoms that I became aware of dyscalculia. And when I did hear about it, I never thought for a minute that it had any impact on my life. It wasn’t until I started thinking about my inability to add or subtract or multiply or divide that I realized that in some way, I was affected by this aspect of ADHD also.
It just had never occurred to me that a computer programmer could have dyscalculia.
But then, we make the most progress on the things we struggle with.