“Dyscalculia” was not something I was aware of until 2004. The Journey from there has been tough and I thought I’d share my story.
I did not know anything about this until 2003 while completing courses for my NVQ. My Lecturer at the time held me back after a lecture and said he had some concerns. I remember being asked at this point if I had heard of Dyscalculia.
I said no and my Lecturer explained that it was a learning difficulty that revolved around numeracy. He also explained that I had likely had it for a number of years. Likely due to a number of reasons meant either no one had detected it. Or had not bothered investigating the problem further.
Following my NVQ and me finding out about my Dyscalculia. I completed a quick 2-week temporary employment placement with a local agency. Following this I then signed on at the Jobcentre.
The DWP then sent me on a voluntary placement. 12 weeks later I was loving it and I spoke to the job centre for an extension. Request refused I decided to stay of my own accord. When I left in 2009 I had gained a few years of admin experience and a respect for Voluntary work.
Not long after my voluntary work ended. Training provider Remploy was my next step. I stayed with them until 2011 my time here was pretty basic. Despite some fallout it was not a terrible experience and got some experience in retail thanks to a work experience role with Sainsbury’s.
In 2011 I was on the move yet again. This time to a new training provider A4E on a 2 year program not my choice it was mandatory I was glad to leave it at 2012.
Immediately A4E did not care about my maths difficulties and blamed me. It was verbal mostly with things like “It’s not the teachers’ fault, it’s yours”
Either way This caused me a massive amount of distress. Trapped! The people paying the provider the Jobcentre/DWP did not want to help instead telling me to speak to them. This was a waste of time as they just made up loads of excuses.
By the midway point at A4E I was wanting out as fast as I could. “The Nuclear Option” as I call it then happened brought on by A4E itself.
I was Invited to take part in a group interview. There was maybe 10 others. Initially straightforward I though it might not be too bad. The numeracy test for the role at company E-ON was then handed out.
Looking at the test I was fighting against the tears and had no choice and respectfully left the room and in the corridor I could not hold it anymore
The plunger had been pressed and I was a wreck immediately an A4E helper checked I was ok. Immediately they realised things were very wrong.
Months after this incident I hoped they were going to finally help me. A4E just gave me excuse after excuse. Finally in early 2013 I got my escape when I started a new job.
In 2014 I enrolled on a maths course and improve my math level and I passed in 2015. I finally felt like someone had understood what I was going through. Since this I have continued to improve my maths and also undertook and completed 2 business courses in 2018.
How does my learning difficulty affect my day to day?
The worst aspect is mostly emotional. When I am not able to do something I become frustrated, and get upset very quickly. An example of this appears earlier in this piece in the A4E part. I actually like math so not being able to do it is quite upsetting.
What Can I Not Do?
This changes for everyone but for me I am not able to things such as times tables and cannot do calculations out in my head. And when someone else answers a more complicated question in a flash. There is me still trying to figure it out some time later.
I also often get distances wrong, I am not able to read a tape measure properly for example.
No clever calculators for me
I also get pretty upset as I am a gadget person seeing all the cool calculators and then realising I will never understand math enough to ever use one.
For me that does not hurt as much as when people invite me to take part in games like cards and respond by saying I don’t understand it enough. Then I feel terrible and pretty low. The worst of all of the feelings for me is seeing my family and friends working and there’s me not working.
Some of the words in this song from Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life also sum up some of my feelings and it’s impossible to not feel a little emotional from this.
Update July 2019
Most of this article was written in 2018 and its now July 2019
Well simple answer slightly better most of what I wrote above is the same and not really changed but I recently took 2 maths tests one while I was doing a pre-screening for a job interview and one for Derbyshire’s Derby College.
Both Indicated I have gone from Entry Level 3 to Entry Level 2. It’s only small but I am delighted with that I have been working so hard since I wrote this piece originally in private learning when I can.
This has given me determination to try and learn more and I am looking at the future with hope.
If you would like to learn more about this learning difficulty you can check out : https://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/dyslexic/maths-difficulties-dyscalculia
As of 2019 there is little to no coverage of Dyscalculia on the likes of the uk governments education page compared to the likes of Dyslexia & Dyspraxia.
I am like others going to continue to make sure more people know about this condition anyway I can and my story