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Do I have a learning disability?

Z

Zalman

New member
Joined
Dec 22, 2020
Messages
3
Location
Calgary, AB, Canada
Hi, new to the forum. My question requires a lengthy preamble, for which I apologize in advance.

When I was growing up, my father was physically abusive and had a very unpredictable violent temper. My younger brother and older sister were also on the receiving end of his abuse, but not as often or as intensely as I was. For instance, I remember once or twice when I happened to play with my food at the dinner table, my father would become cross and backhand me so hard, I would fly off my chair and across the room. If me or my brother (or both) had got into some minor trouble during the day while my father was at work, he would wait till later in the evening until we had gone to bed, then come up the stairs, wake me (or us both) up, (we shared a bedroom) from a dead sleep, and whip us with a belt until our rear ends bled.

Needless to say, we all lived in mortal fear of my father. He was not an alcoholic (he rarely drank more than a beer on the weekends), he just had a violent temper. My mother finally got up the courage to get a divorce when I was 10, but we had to leave the house and stay with a friend of my mother's for a while. Such was the fear of my father's reaction.

My father was a master carpenter from Denmark, and as we kids later found out, was also abused by his own father. As much as we lived in terror of my father, we also admired him. For my dad could seemingly build or repair anything. He built our home, our tree house, and later renovated the basement. He also fixed up and repaired our old family Volvo station wagon. When it came to building, mechanics, electrical, or construction, my dad was extremely talented.

While I was growing up, my dad would occasionally teach me things; e.g. how to fish, how to shoot a gun, how to ride a bike, how to saw wood, or hammer a nail, etc. Unfortunately, more often than not, if I didn't pick up the skill right away, my dad would get very impatient and start yelling at me, calling me names, and sometimes giving me a hard slap on the head. This eventually led to me being reluctant to get my dad to teach me anything. It got to the point where I would try to avoid him around the house. But of course, this strategy proved futile. Sometimes my mom would say, "Go help your dad in the workshop" just to get me out of her hair. It's difficult to put into words how emotionally tense it was for me to be around my dad when we were doing something together. He could be helpful and kind at times, yet I never knew what would set his temper off.

My schooling experience was sometimes almost as traumatic. I had a few grade school teachers who were also quick-tempered and abusive. I remember vivdly my grade 6 math teacher, for example, who kept me very late after school trying to teach me to solve a math problem from an earlier test. She explained it over and over, but I just could not understand it. She grew increasingly impatient until she suddenly burst out -- half crying and half screaming at me -- cursing and calling me names, telling me she had never had a student who was as stupid as I was. After two hours she gave up, and told me to go home. I remember walking home and crying all the way, deeply humiliated. I ended up failing grade 6 and had to repeat it.

Years later in my early 20s I reconnected with my dad. He had remarried in the intervening years, had more children, and seemed to have mellowed out quite a bit. As I didn't have a car or driver's license yet, he offered to teach me to drive. I reluctantly accepted. Sure enough, within a half hour and a few mistakes in, and I could feel his impatience growing. He got risibly upset, and called the lesson off. We got out of his truck and he slammed the door. He then offered to help pay for driving lessons from a proper driving school. I declined. I did later on sign up for driving lessons from a school. And as luck would have it, I ended up with a driving instructor who also lost his cool with me. He refused to teach me. Humiliated again, I did not pursue driving any further. I do not drive to this day.

I've noticed over the years a recurring emotional pattern whenever someone tries to teach me something. I feel tremendous anxiety and am extremely fearful of someone's impatience and potential anger. It can often trigger a panic attack. As a result, I've had problems holding jobs. I've even gone for long periods without employment out of fear of starting a job and having to learn and train on the job from someone. Like most people, I've had one or two horrible bosses, which hasn't helped my situation. Sometimes I end up going to the workplace washroom and throwing up. Other times I get so angry at myself and the situation that I harm myself..

For a long time, I thought I was just a slow learner or perhaps just not very intelligent. I know I am not the most physically coordinated person, and I am blind in one eye. However, my school marks were all average or above average. I even went to university for two years (but had to quit for lack of money because I couldn't find or hold employment). In other words, I don't think it's any lack of cognitive capacity, since I do eventually learn most of the things I am taught, usually through other means i.e. extra study using books, or otherwise from a kind friend or co-worker. I think it has to do with anxiety around learning.

I am 61 now, and with the pandemic, I am deep into another long bout of unemployment. On a productive note, it's given me time to reflect on my life more, and it's only been recently that I have entertained the possibility that I may have some sort of learning disability. Except it's not really an inability to learn so much as an emotional problem around the act of learning. Specifically, an emotional problem around learning from someone else in close physical proximity. At least, that's what I think it is. I could be wrong.


So I guess my question is: Do I have some kind of condition? If so, could it be categorized as a learning disability?

Thanks.
 
J

Jrchmn

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 17, 2018
Messages
122
The definition of a learning disability varies in different countries and over time. Usually learning disability is used to refer to people with an IQ below 60. Of course IQ is subjective etc etc but if generally speaking if someone is able to get average school marks you wouldn’t define them as having a learning disability. On the other hand most if not all of us have some barriers to learning. You might have a significant barrier such as an attachment disorder/trauma that has lead to autistic characteristics and difficulties processing information. One thing is for certain you’ve had really awful teachers and learnt despite of not because of that dreadful Maths teacher.
 
C

celticlass

Well-known member
Joined
May 7, 2011
Messages
1,434
Location
Scotland
Hi. In the a Learning Disabled person has an IQ of less than 70. I know this because one of my sons was diagnosed in adulthood. His IQ is 69 and he is also autistic. The way you write alone leads me to believe the answer is 'no'. While not impossible, it would be highly unusual for you to make it part way through University. So if you think there is an issue it might be more of a learning difficulty - dyslexia or maybe dyspraxia etc.
 
Z

Zalman

New member
Joined
Dec 22, 2020
Messages
3
Location
Calgary, AB, Canada
No, I do not have dyslexia. I can read perfectly fine. My unco-ordination is not as severe as dyspraxia.

My problem is I suffer from anxiety, and get easily triggered with emotional pain whenever someone tries to teach me something, to the point where I shut down and can't learn properly. It's not that I am incapable of learning, it's the fact of learning from someone who has power over me that produces debilitating anxiety. If I learn something from a book, for example, I have no problem. Sorry if that wasn't clear before.
 
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