ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Health»
  • Disabilities & the Disabled

Anxiety and Learning Disabilities: My Story

Updated on September 2, 2017
social thoughts profile image

I have a B.A. in English with a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. I've been a Goth since age fourteen, and a Pagan since age fifteen.

"Why is it harder for me?" My Story

After having an impossible time in second grade, I was diagnosed with perceptual impairment. The name sounds like it affects my sight; however, it's really my mental perception. How I comprehend information. My memory is affected, as well. Most people can be given verbal directions without having to write them down; unless they’re going an especially far distance. In my case, if there are more than two instructions, I panic if I don't write it down, or I have a GPS to rely on.

Do you have a learning disability?

See results

I used to think that people were right about me—I'm an angry person; however, that wouldn't make sense. I want to use my life to fight the oppression of others. I must be a good person. Why is it that I'm more tense than my friends, my family, and strangers? I used to think that, maybe, it is my learning difficulty, or maybe it's my anxiety. Really, it's the anxiety that I feel when my learning disability comes into play. It's because the people interacting with me assume that I process information the way that they do. Of course, no two people will be entirely alike when taking in the same information; however, as someone with a learning disability, that is exactly the presumption I've noticed society making.

I Can't Do This, But I Can Do That is a documentary on a group of children with learning differences. Personally, it helps to know that others like me feel overwhelmed and become angry as frequently as I do; instead of society working as a team, it scolds us. While I was in school, most students seemed calm and/or careless about their academics. I have always been determined to do my best, immediately. Any time that I struggled, I felt anxious because I didn't want to fall behind. Studies have concluded that many learning disabled people suffer from low self-esteem.

Deceptive Appearances

Perceptual impairment—now called something else—is not a commonly known learning disability like ADD or dyslexia. It is not physically noticeable like Down syndrome. To this day, no one knows that I have it until I tell them. Since my mom is an educator, she calls this "high functioning." It's a blessing and a curse. On one hand, I don't have to worry about immediate embarrassment because it isn't obvious. Meanwhile, when it does affect me the outcome is additional disappointment from others and less sympathy because I’ve shown my strengths in other areas without an issue; therefore, it isn’t taken seriously.

Source

Preventing the Unpreventable

As a college graduate, my anxiety comes primarily from customer service work. At the same time, I do thrive on helping others—even in these situations. I strive for perfection because customers, coworkers, and employers expect it. While helping customers, I like to work at a fast-pace for a few reasons. One, I usually have other duties that need to be attended to. Two, I move quickly to avoid criticism for being slow—which I'll usually receive, regardless. Three, it releases the anxiety that I’m constantly feeling.

Have you ever felt stressed because you perceive things differently than most?

See results

The Bad

The first reaction I ever heard from a customer to my learning disability was years ago. I was having trouble memorizing the location numbers for their items. When the woman was getting aggravated, I mentioned, "I have a learning disability." It was so that she didn't think of me as lazy, stupid, or who knows what. Her response was to inform me that she has a relative who is learning disabled, and to suggest that write the numbers down.

I’m putting it nicely.

Her suggestion would have come out more helpful had she not spoken down to me; especially, since she is clearly not learning disabled, herself. Nor is she an expert on my type. In fact, she never bothered to ask which one I have. Apparently, we’re all the same. Like when a homophobe says, “I know a gay guy,” or a racist says, “I have a black friend.”

In past jobs, customers thought it funny that I sped through my work, not knowing that it's wasn’t for fun. Like I said, in part, I do work that quickly to help release the excess energy from the anxiety that I experience on a daily basis. All the while, my heart would pound so hard that I thought it would come through my chest, but they chuckled at it like it was a game. One comment that I received, and will never forget was, "Stop working so fast. You're making the rest of us look bad." What a knee-slapper that was...not.

The Good

I am going to dare to suggest that those of us with learning disabilities are as hard on ourselves as society tends to be. There was another time when I shared the unmentionable—that I have a learning disability. This time it was with a kind customer. It was when she was trying to have a conversation with me while I was attempting to enter the dollar amount into the credit card machine, but kept being too distracted by her words to do so successfully. I was open and honest with her in the nicest way possible. Then, the panic returned because I wondered, will she respond like that woman, years ago?

To my surprise and relief, she was polite and understanding: "My son's girlfriend has a learning disability, too." Furthermore, she explained a little about our similarities. She proved that some people are capable of having compassion for people like myself, whether they're experienced teachers or not. It touched me to be understood, rather than spoken down to, yet again, by a stranger.

The customer wasn’t trying to act like an expert, but as someone who has known others. She only wanted to be friendly. By opening up, it encouraged her to relate, not control. If everyone knew how to use knowledge in this way, imagine what kind of society we could have.

© 2015 social thoughts

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • social thoughts profile image
    Author

    social thoughts 3 years ago from New Jersey

    Ann,

    Thank you! You make some good points. Most think it's silly that I work so quickly, but it's what works for me. Thank you for helping give us a bigger voice. Many times it takes a third party to give light to those who do!

  • annart profile image

    Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

    I think your customers' reactions say more about them than about your difficulties; intolerance or being patronising does not help, obviously!

    I have worked with dyslexics for years; many experience similar symptoms to those you describe, plus lots of other things of course. I've never come across the need for rapid working, understandable though it is. I can see why you would write things down to have the knowledge that you don't have to remember them for too long.

    I think you're courageous to do such a job; it must give you lots of stress.

    It's essential that people explain such things to those who don't know, that we all try to understand those who have learning disabilities and how they cope.

    In our literacy-geared society, many are disadvantaged. If we turned the tables, others would be disadvantaged and, boy, would they moan!

    Great article, well explained with interesting examples. I'm glad Bill pointed me in your direction.

    Ann

  • social thoughts profile image
    Author

    social thoughts 3 years ago from New Jersey

    lawrence,

    I'm glad it was someone who understood! I've had caring and not so caring teachers. It's best when there's personal experience because not all teachers have teaching in them. The greats are vital!

    Thank you for appreciating my work. I write these to inform the many misinformed, and to speak for others like myself, and parents like you! :)

  • lawrence01 profile image

    Lawrence Hebb 3 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

    Just want to add to what Billy said. My daughter was only diagnosed because she had a teacher who had a special needs child herself and even then it took her two years to work out what was going on.

    I can't praise the teachers enough for the difference it's made in our lives as a family. I also really want to thank you for having the courage to write this hub.

  • social thoughts profile image
    Author

    social thoughts 3 years ago from New Jersey

    lawrence01,

    Thank you for commenting, and sharing! That is great news! I wish her all the best! :)

  • social thoughts profile image
    Author

    social thoughts 3 years ago from New Jersey

    denise.w.anderson,

    That is so true! I was shown something that prints the locations, if there are too many numbers to remember, but this system is new. I wouldn't have had that option before. Your technique seems to work for you, so good!

    Thank you!

  • denise.w.anderson profile image

    Denise W Anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

    As a person with anxiety, I had to make a number of adjustments when I started doing office work full time. One of the most important was to have a stack of small paper scraps (I tear 8 1/2 x 11 sheets into quarters) and a pen near the telephone. When someone calls, rather than trying to go to the actual place where the information is needed, I write it on the scrap paper. That way, I can write sloppy, take notes, or put other clarifying information with it. Then, when I go to actually put the information where it is needed, I can write it neatly for later retrieval.

    Knowing the things that you have to do to adjust for your learning disability is half of the battle. In my mind, you have already won!

  • lawrence01 profile image

    Lawrence Hebb 3 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

    This hub is awesome!!!! You knew that I know but it really is. Last yeary daughter (aged thirteen) was diagnosed autistic. She's only 'borderline' but getting the diagnosis has been the best thing as we can now get the help she needs

    Before shelves struggling at school but now she's excelling and all because people took the time to find out how she processes information. Awesome hub

  • social thoughts profile image
    Author

    social thoughts 3 years ago from New Jersey

    Bill,

    Thank you for your comment, and for acknowledging the difficulty with diagnosis. I am sure you were always a great teacher for people like myself; unfortunately, so many don't know they have one. I can only imagine how much harder that must be!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

    During my years as a teacher I have come across quite a few students with learning disabilities. It is so hard to diagnose....hard to recognize...and hard to deal with. Articles like this one help others, and that may be their greatest value.

working