I Have Dyscalculia (what is it? and how was I diagnosed) | Personal post

I remember being 10 years old and sitting in the classroom at lunchtime with my frustrated teacher, ''WHY CAN'T YOU COUNT BACK FROM 500 PROPERLY'' she screamed at me as I sat, trying not to choke on my tears. ''THE WATERWORKS WON'T WORK WITH ME, PAY ATTENTION!!''.

All I could think and feel at that moment was confusion and panic because I just couldn't do what she was asking. She always gave me a hard time over Maths and put it down to me either 'Not listening', 'Not paying attention' or 'Being distracted'. The truth of the matter was, that (I didn't know till years later) I had some brain damage and Dyscalculia.

It's funny how you remember certain points of your childhood and that moment seems to be one that has always stuck with me. I've had the unfortunate luck of having some really horrible teachers in my life, people who should have never been around children.

I remember we sat there for an hour with her shouting and screaming at me, slamming pencils down on the desk, slapping the pages of the text book. I just sat there distraught and told her how sorry I was and that I just couldn't do it. After an hour of this, she gave up, walked out and left me in the classroom. The bell rang and everyone came back into class and my stomach was rumbling with hunger and face sore from all the crying.

There was a few instances in my school years where there would be moments similar to this and I would have to put up with being screamed and yelled at because I couldn't do a sum properly. None of these idiots who were supposed to be educated themselves, stopped to think that this child may have a problem.

I know there are some good teachers out there today who are fabulous and really care about children (thank god) and support children with special needs. Like I said before, I had my pick of horrendous teachers, I could tell you a few stories, they might pop up on this blog at some point lol. My life has been and is a freakin soap opera.

So, I had this drama with Maths all through Primary school (kindergarten), High school and into University (Yes! me with the brain damage and crap ability at Maths got into University, this was one of my proudest moments but I worked my socks off for it).

I mention going to University but do you know that I also worked in retail too? and on a till? the only way I managed to survive working in retail (and there was a few mistakes I can tell you, with sales tags and operating the till. The customers loved me but the managers didn't lol) was that I had to do everything slow and had to double check everything at least three times with a calculator.

I've had some really fabulous jobs and I don't know how I've managed to keep them, I put it down to double checking everything when it comes to numbers.

When I was at University I went to an education psychologist because we were due to take exams and I can't remember what the exact reason it was, it was something to do with dyslexia (which I also have by the way but a lot of research has been done into dyslexia so you probably know what it is) and she did these tests on me and I received a letter a few days later with the results. It said that as well as the dyslexia, I had Dyscalculia!

I could go into the definitions of what it means (here's some more info about it) but to cut a long story short, it's like dyslexia with numbers. I get numbers around the wrong way. Sometimes I see numbers wrong, for example '3' instead of '5'. I don't know all of my times tables, I know the five and ten times tables, for some reason these are easy for me to remember. I don't know my own phone number which I've had for years but have to keep it written in my diary incase anyone asks for it (I always lie and pretend that I've got a new phone because people look at me funny if I say I can't remember my own phone number).

I can't remember anyone else's phone number either. I have to be careful with post codes, I mistake 0 for O a lot of times. I can't hold numbers in my head, if you ask me to count backwards, I get all mixed up and can't think straight. I have no idea how to do divides or equations or percentages. Pie charts and graphs etc are a mystery to me.

I've tried everything to learn Maths but with my learning difficulty it won't work. With dyslexia, you can practice and practice and sometimes it can really work. If someone gave me a Maths test for a 5 year old right now, I can guarantee I would fail every question/sum. It's something that I've had to learn to live with. I have to use a calculator to do basic sums.

A lot of people who have Dyscalculia often hide it because it can feel embarrassing. For some reason some people think it's funny if you can't add up properly, some people get annoyed and call you ''thick''.

I remember working in retail and we had a problem with the tills one day (think it was a powercut or something) and I was told that I had to look after the till manually. This was one of my worst nightmares, I grabbed a calculator and hoped for the best (this was before being diagnosed at University, at that time I just thought I was terrible at Maths and that was it). This woman that I was serving gave me some money and I was trying to work out the change. She saw me using the calculator and she said in a snooty voice ''Oh, you're not that stupid surely?''. I felt so much pressure and the queue was getting bigger and bigger with everyone looking at me using the calculator. I heard someone say that I need to learn how to count properly.

I saw my supervisor walk past and pretended that I needed to go to the toilets to be sick and he took over the till for me (which was nice of him). I just went into the toilet and cried my eyes out because I felt humiliated over something that I couldn't do anything about. I was embarrassed that I had to use a calculator to do a basic sum, I felt that I was publicly shamed.

Nowadays if someone said anything, I'd tell them to F!ck off but at that time I was younger and obviously didn't know I had these issues. It can be hard to know that you have learning difficulties yourself until someone professional points it out to you. I grew up in a small town in Scotland where the majority of people had problems with Maths and spelling so it wasn't seen as a big deal. None of the teachers had ever supported me or talked to me about this, it was either ignored or I was screamed and shouted at.

It's crazy to think that I had gone so long through Primary and High School without a teacher taking the matter up with me, it's not as if there were no signs. My homework and classwork was a catastrophe. The truth is, is that they couldn't be bothered. Maybe they thought it would be too much hassle. Thank goodness for the University being so supportive and helping me with it.

Nobody talks about Dyscalculia and I wish there was more awareness of it. It would really help teachers, parents, kids and basically everyone lol! I didn't find out I had it till I was an adult, I struggled for all those years thinking and being called ''thick'', ''stupid'', ''lazy'' for something that was beyond my control.

Hopefully this post will help others who are like me out there feel a little bit better, you're not alone. It's a daily struggle for me too .

Thank you, as always for taking the time to read my post and if you fancy a chat about this, just drop me a comment below, tweet or email me. See you in the next post x

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  1. You are so brave for sharing this story beautiful, I know this will help spread awareness for Dyscalculia and comfort and help so many out there reading too. It breaks my heart that you had to deal with so many awful and cruel teachers, they should be ashamed of themselves and should never have been let near children. It's shocking how some people like that were allowed to work with children. You are so strong and a courageous queen who deserves to be so proud of getting into university and coming back with more fight and spirit despite some horrendous times. Customers can be so nasty, it's shocking to be so mean and I'm so sad they treated you like that. Thank you for sharing this inspiring story queen, look up to you and your stunning soul so much and am so very proud of how far you've come! ♥︎♥︎♥︎

    Sophie | soinspo xo

    1. Thank you so much gorge! You're such a wonderful friend and with such a kind heart. I appreciate your lovely words. You are a total inspiration and have come through so much. Your posts help people everyday. Love you lots & thank you as always : ) x

  2. This is so close to experiences I've have. I'm not diagnosed with anything (also just assumed I was thick) but I just can't seem to get numbers at all. It's like they're Chinese symbols or something. I've worked in retail and the till going down is literally my worst nightmare. The whole 'surely you're not this stupid' thing has happened to me and I always feel so humiliated by it. I've not applied for jobs I thought I'd like because I may encounter numbers, I flunked my statistics exam during my Psychology degree so badly I had a panic attack at the computer, and I was yelled at by so many teachers (I was once told to stand in front of the class and recite my tables, which I still don't know, and the teacher yelled and yelled and yelled when I couldn't do it). This is such an important discussion to open!

  3. I can totally relate to this! In Maths my heart would be racing because the teacher would choose people at random to answer the sum that they wrote on the blackboard. It was horrendous because when I was chosen all the other kids would giggle when I didn't know the answer. I really hope that they don't do this in schools today because it is really cruel. That must've been horrible having to stand in front of the class and recite times tables, that kind of thing can leave scars on people which can develop into social phobia. Thank you for taking the time to read my post and share your story. I hope that more research is done into this x

  4. Thank you for sharing your story. You're the first person I've 'met' that also has dyscalculia and found myself nodding along to this post. I was also diagnoses in university, I remember my primary school teacher telling my mother I would never amount to anything. I'd never get into university. All because of maths - I proved her wrong but it has been a struggle. Like you, I've been yelled at, sneered at and embarrassed by it. It nice to know someone that understands. Thank you for writing this.

    1. Awww Kim, I'm sorry that you had to go through that and how dare that teacher say such a thing, some people shouldn't be allowed to teach! I'm so glad that you proved that teacher wrong and that's an amazing achievement to get to University. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. So many people have contacted me saying they have this too but don't feel comfortable to admit it x

  5. Wow! This was such an interesting read. I've never heard of dyscalculia but it would certainly explain my problems with numbers!