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Not sure if this is a learning disability or not

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Joined: Jan 09, 2008
Posts: 1
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Posted Jan 09, 2008 at 10:08:20 PM
Subject: Not sure if this is a learning disability or not

I'm an older adult, and I have had a particular problem with studying and working all my life. And that is that when I am confronted with a lot of undifferentiated information, I get overwhelmed quickly. By "undifferentiated", I mean that the information hasn't been analyzed or categorized yet, and it just feels like a big "blob o'stuff". I can't wrap my mind around it and I usually feel at a loss.

I have a terrible time at the beginning of a project, when I'm not sure yet what the scope of it is (ie, how big the project is going to be), when the tasks are still undefined. I remember having a hard time with this when I was a child in school, and I used to get in trouble a lot, because it took me forever to get started on an assignment. Once I got started, I was fine, but usually, I didn't have time to finish because it had taken so long to start.

I now have similar problems at work. At the beginning of a new project, or when I have to learn something new, when there's a lot of new information to process, I find it very difficult to concentrate or to focus. Once I have figured out enough to know what needs to happen next, my ability to do the work gets much better.

I hate to do any kind of research. I have very little ability to discern which parts of the information I'm exploring are important and which are superfluous. I have a lot of anxiety about this - a fear of wasting time going down a blind alley, because I couldn't tell which sources of information were useful and which weren't.

I've looked around online for information about learning disabilities. I can't say that anything I've read really addresses what I'm talking about here, so maybe what I have isn't a learning disability. Here is what I can say about myself:

* I have above average intelligence

* I have good language skills - good writing ability, good spelling, good comprehension

* I have excellent math skills

* My visual comprehension and imagination are probably below average, but still pretty much normal

* I have slight auditory processing problems, but not bad enough to be consider a disability

* My motor skills are average. I'm not athletic or particularly graceful, but I can function fine.

* My reading skills are OK, but there are a couple of noteworthy things:

- I read very slowly
- My mind wanders a lot while I'm reading
- I lose interest easily. This has gotten worse as I've aged, but has always been a problem.

I learn VERY WELL when I can ask questions of another person. If I have a person who is good at teaching and explaining at my disposal, to answer questions and help me make sense of large amounts of information, I am able to process it and comprehend it much better than when I do it on my own. So I've started calling myself an "interactive learner". :)


My language development as a child was normal to above average. I learned to speak at an appropriate age. I learned to read very quickly. For these reasons, I've never considered myself to be learning disabled. It's just in this one area - trying to organize and distill a coherent set of concepts from a large and amorphous blob o'data - that I have a lot of trouble in.

I'd love to hear feedback on this. Sorry it was so long!

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Joined Feb 06, 2005
Posts: 265

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Posted:Jan 10, 2008 12:46:03 AM

Hi Bastette,
It seems that you have mental organization difficulties, which many people have.
Your below average visual comprehension and imagination could be a factor?
Though what a lot people find really helpful, is Mind Mapping software, which helps you to map out a way of working through a project.
Then use as a guide as you work through it.
If you do a google of mind mapping, you'll see a lot of software that is available.
Yet their are also some free ones, that you could have a look at as well.
Also free trials of many others.

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Joined Feb 11, 2008
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Posted:Feb 11, 2008 10:45:22 PM

Another 2 cents: I think what you describe sounds perfectly normal. I don't have a learning disability-- I'm here to learn more because a close cousin was recently diagnosed-- but wanted to chime in because you may be overanalyzing your performance. Starting a new project and piecing together unorganized information is a challenge for everyone. It's not easy to get going when you don't know what's important and where the project is headed, be it completing an essay for homework or creating a timeline for something at work. It's really not just you that feels that way!

It sounds like you have analyzed your abilities, such as intelligence, verbal skills, math skills, spacial skills, etc, quite a bit. I would suggest to you that you likely have a lot to contribute without being the smartest, best at math, or best writer in your group. Find something you can do to aid the process- maybe you won't be the one who gets the ball rolling and organizes the work for everyone else (but hey, other people are great at that!), but you can be the one who keeps good notes or is actually reliable about getting their part done on time. Unlike school, where it's all about you and your own assignments, work is more about being conscientious and working well in a team (as I'm sure you know already). If you're not good at something, let someone else do it and fill a different niche-- don't analyze it too much, and don't be too hard on yourself.

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Joined Feb 20, 2008
Posts: 1

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Posted:Mar 10, 2008 2:04:12 AM

How good is your sociaisation? Can you make friends (of both genders) easily?

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Joined May 05, 2008
Posts: 424

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Posted:May 22, 2008 2:22:08 AM

There is a learning style, that has to do with having difficulty learning from someone who doesn't have an interpersonal relationship with you. Someone who just stands on stage and babbles.... Almost like because they don't matter on a personal level nothing they say matters but when they do matter on a personal level to some degree.... Suddenly, learning from them and having a more interactive lesson provides you with more. Just like some are visual learners some kinetic and others auditory.... But that is learning style. A learning disability is quite a different matter.

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