During the summer months people look forward to going on vacations. People look forward getting away from work or school. I am looking forward to summer break and going to trips with my husband. As much as I love traveling, having a Learning Disability is one thing I don’t get a break from. Many people think that people with them or other neurodivergent disabilities such as Autism outgrow them, or overcome them if they have success. Having a brain based disability effects many areas of my life that I don’t get a break from.
Executive functioning and processing difficulties are issues that I can’t escape from. Problems in these areas, effects how I think, learn and process information. I have trouble understanding and processing what people tell me. Many times people give me directions and I think I understand what they are asking and I may complete the task wrong. People think that when I get something wrong that I’m not paying attention. I am focusing, but listening and understanding are two different things. I often have to teach myself how to learn a new skill, with much practice.
Not being able to drive is another area that I can’t escape from. My difficulties with visual perception prevent me from driving. I’m not able to get in the car and drive myself where I need to go. I need to get a ride from someone who can drive. If I can’t get a ride, I need to walk or take the bus to get where I need to go. Public transportation and places I wish to visit on the bus line are limited. Walking is my preferred mode of transportation, when I can’t get a ride. Living in a central location is essential to my independence.
My difficulties with math is another part of life I can’t take retreat from. I struggle to total items in the store. It’s always a surprise when the cashier totals my items. I truly don’t know how much I am spending. It can also be difficult to create a budget, and to pay bills. I also struggle to figure out a tip when I go out to eat. My struggle with math goes beyond totaling numbers. Having Dyscalculia creates difficulty with telling my left from my right. I am also not able to read the face of an analog clock.
Despite not being able to take a break from my disability, I have found ways to live with it. I have discovered new ways to adapt. Technology has also been particularly helpful. A digital clock or my Fit Bit help me to know what time it is. I am able to type emails and stories on the computer, to be able to share my thoughts with others. Apps on my phone help me to total a tip, at restaurant. I’m also blessed with a wonderful support system who gives me rides and patiently explains how to do the task again.
I can’t transport to a world that is 100% disability friendly. Our society wants to classify people with disabilities or cure them. At times I feel like I am living in a world not meant for me. Having a disability is a journey not a destination. Thankfully there are ways that I can adapt and cope. I have to learn to manage it and make it part of my life.