Dyscalculia Ambassador – Lysa
My name is Lysa. I am 34 and I am currently studying for a degree in Animal science and Welfare.
I am neurodivergent. I have Dyscalculia, ADHD and I am deaf, but most of all, I am my harshest critic, In all areas of my life and particularly in learning. How I learn, how much I learn, and how I react to learning.
From a very young age, I had my head in a book, and I had a very high literacy level, but when it came to numbers, it was the opposite end of the scale. I couldn’t count. I couldn’t process numbers, maps, shape; I couldn’t tell the time, and it created a fear, that now, in my thirties, I am only just coming not only to terms with but understanding how complex the reasoning behind a lot of those actions were. As a child, I didn’t want to disappoint my teachers. I was afraid of failing and I didn’t understand why I wasn’t grasping methods that others were, why it was making me so emotional, why so many of my teachers just didn’t have time for me and labelled me as ‘lazy’. All of this added up, gave me such anxiety, that for a long time, I felt that there wasn’t a place in education for someone like me, even though I love to learn.
My parents didn’t really understand my struggle either. All my mum knew is that she was being told I wasn’t trying, so she asked a family members partner to try and teach me about angles and times tables because I was having issues. That did not work, and she told me I was not suited for the 11+ or grammar school.
I carried on reading everything I could, and eventually during the pandemic, I was faced with the A-level equivalent of maths, and I cried so much that my very kind maths teacher offered to give me (along with my CSW in attendance) extra online lessons so I could pass, which I did with double merit.
For me, being diagnosed with dyscalculia as an adult was equally both a liberating and terrifying experience.
I was in my first semester of university, on a STEM course that is quite logical, and uses number by using graphs and spreadsheets to analyse data. I was completely overcome with imposter syndrome, and to a large extent, grief. I was angry that here I was, as an adult, with no maths GCSE, just an access course; fighting to make a future for myself, when actually, multiple education systems had failed me previously by dismissing me, because they deemed me ‘too bright in other areas’.
I had half expected the educational psychologist to dismiss me entirely and tell me I wasn’t trying hard enough.
She didn’t. She was kind and understood why I was upset. She explained why I couldn’t process graphs, and how I could use overlays to try and help with visual distress and made some recommendations for my support plan at uni.
So, I came away, processed, and spoke to a valued friend, realising that it was the first time I had ever really verbalised how I felt about my difficulties, but also, it was also the first time I had received positive feedback as well. I had not been dismissed; I had not been told that I would not pass my course. I had not been met with ‘ Oh I hate maths too’. I had been seen, acknowledged, and given some of the tools to take power of my own learning, which for me as an adult, I desperately needed.
When I read the previous blog post by Emily Gee, I smiled. I agree! I would not describe Dyscalculia as a superpower either. It is frustrating, and difficult, although for me; it has taught me to try and practice patience where I can as well, because there are some things that no matter how I look at them, I must try and look at an alternative way, especially when combined with any difficulties I experience with ADHD.
I truly feel that more awareness should be raised, for children, and for adults with dyscalculia for all avenues of learning and particularly within the STEM community.
Dyscalculia does not mean less able to process. It is a different route of getting to the end goal and should not be met with closed doors.
I feel that there should be more research aimed at adults if possible because how Dyscalculia can challenge adults, is not the same as how it can challenge children, and for people like me who did not receive their diagnosis until much later, guidance for children is not always helpful.
The governments stance on blocking funding is alarming, I certainly wouldn’t have gotten into university under this rule, and neither would so many other ND and/ or disabled students. I am so fortunate that I can study an area that challenges me and lets me learn continuously, and I cannot begin to say how grateful I am for the people around me that help make that possible, and those that I am able to ask for help if I need to. It is because of the support I receive from people that value me, that help form my aspirations, when before I was not able to conceive any.