Seeking help and advice

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    • #50449

      Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, I was basically a quiet, withdrawn kind of kid who became a quiet, withdrawn kind of teenager with very few friends. There was no intervention from neither my parents nor my teachers (possibly with one exception) in regard to my learning challenges. Back then, as I have discovered, awareness of “learning disabilities” was in its infancy. In one instance, I recall the vice principal commenting in my grade 9 report card that, “Four failures indicates a serious problem. What is being done about this?” Of course, nothing was ever done. Midway through grade 11, after years of failure and other stresses, I dropped out. Since then, I haven’t returned to an academic environment because of fear of failure and doubt in my own abilities.

      My work history has been a series of low paying positions, primarily within retail. To varying degrees, I have enjoyed my various types of work. On the flip side, however, there have been degrees of dissatisfaction in the jobs that I have had. In each and every instance, learning has always been a challenge.

      In my most recent position, which lasted for five years, the last year of my employ went into serious and rapid decline. Lack of support for my learning disability, job dissatisfaction, stress, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed at times (possibly a panic attack episode), and other issues were likely among the contributing factors leading to my termination at the end of October 2016. Since that time, I haven’t been gainfully employed and currently surviving on an employment insurance income (which will soon end).

      In my personal life, I have several interests. One of my passions and creative outlets is photography. While I may love these things, however, my issues with learning make pursuing them difficult and frustrating. There have been so many things that I have wanted to do, but again fear of failure and doubt in my own abilities have weighed so heavily on my mind that I have simply not pursued them.

      A few years ago I discovered another aspect of myself that I didn’t know that I possessed. In December 2011, I visited Southeast Asia and volunteered with a small Canadian charity for almost that entire month. Until that time, I hadn’t travelled outside of North America. The experience was so profound and life-changing that I have since yearned to return to that part of the world and continue doing what I was doing. Even though this was a great personal triumph, I am not certain if I will go back there because my demons, fear of failure and doubt in my own abilities, will intervene and sabotage that dream in some way.

      At the end of April 2016, after years of suspicion and speculation, I was formally diagnosed with a learning disability plus a constellation of other issues and the possibility of ADD without hyperactivity within days of celebrating my 54th birthday.

      In that assessment, there was a section which focused on specific strengths and “areas of need”:


      Strong verbal abilities
      Well-developed written communication abilities
      Average math functioning

      Areas of need:

      Visual-spatial reasoning
      Relative weak processing speed
      Impaired visual motor integration
      Severe impairment across memory functioning
      Poor executive functioning
      Poor attentional skills (which might be related to anxiety or ADD; the report was inconclusive)
      Anxiety and depressive symptoms
      Time management
      Organizational skills

      Since receiving that report, I have been searching for supports and services for adults with learning disabilities in my home country of Canada. Thus far, and sadly, I have found a dearth of such resources. A couple of professionals in this field of expertise with whom I have communicated have confirmed this.

      This being the case, I am now pondering this question. Are resources more readily available for adults with learning disabilities in the United States?

      P.S. A couple of days ago a new friend in my life made a very astute observation about me. He said that he noticed when we met for coffee one day that my focus was moving all over the place and that I couldn’t sit still for very long.

      • This topic was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by ardrake4479.
      • This topic was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by ardrake4479.
      • This topic was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by ardrake4479.
    • #50465
      Penny Williams

      I think it’s tough to find resources for learning disabilities as an adult, no matter where you live. Sadly, it seems like it’s still thought of as a childhood disorder.

      On the other hand, there is growing support for adults with ADHD. Which is great news!

      I’m wondering if you can work with an employment agency to find your career aptitude, based on your strengths and weaknesses you learned from your evaluation.

      Finding a Career That Works For You

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #50480

      First and foremost, be proud of yourself! You sought help, and are now trying to come up with a plan for the areas identified. Most adults dealing with ADD (with or without learning disabilities), are still simply going day-to-day and finding other ways to cope/treat (drugs, alcohol, violence, crime, etc).

      Of the struggles identified in your report, I’d personally lump the executive functioning, processing speed, and attentional skills together as part of the ADD. The anxiety also is linked. I like to think of anxiety with ADD as trying to slowly cross a 10-lane highway. Your brain is processing your environment as best it can, but the world in which we live is flawed for those of us with ADD.

      I’m not a neuropsychologist, don’t know you personally, nor have I read your report, but I’m curious as to how you are thought to have struggles with visual-spatial reasoning, yet love photography. I wonder if the test was flawed because of your processing speed, attention struggles, etc.

      I think you need to go on a quest and interview a whole bunch of mental health therapy providers, ADD coaches, and psychiatrists with this information in hand. You need to find that person who seems capable and is committed to truly categorizing your struggles. They will provide you with a long-term plan in how to accentuate your talents while finding ways to manage the other aspects.

      Again, congratulations on your courage. I wish you all the best in your future succcess.


      Diagnosed with ADD and high functioning ASD at age 45
      Married (God bless her)
      Two children: one with ADD and ASD, one with ADD and anxiety. Both brilliant and wonderful.

      • This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by ADDDoc.
    • #50630

      20 years ago (at age 49), like you, I was diagnosed with ADD (without hyperactivity). I spent 20 years on ADD medications, with moderate attenuation of symptoms. Just 3 years ago, I was diagnosed again, and found to have sleep apnea. After 2 months using a CPAP machine, I no longer felt the need for, and discontinued the use of, the ADD drugs (Ritalin, and Prozac for the accompanying depression). Remarkably, the symptoms for each condition are nearly identical.

      Here’s what happens to those with untreated sleep apnea: the airway becomes blocked after muscle relaxation, usually (but not always) while sleeping on the back. Breathing stops. CO 2 builds up in the lungs as oxygen is depleted, which triggers the autonomous nervous system to release a jolt of adrenalin, which arouses you from sleep, just enough to start you breathing again, but not enough to bring you back to waking consciousness. People with sleep apnea almost never know they have the condition. (Ask someone who snores if they were snoring when you wake them up; they will deny it, sincerely believing that they were not snoring, as they never hear themselves snore.) Sleep Apnea has two sets of effects: those from interrupted sleep and adequate dream time, and those from the series of adrenalin “jolts.” (The snoring/breathingcessation/adrenalin cycle can recur over a hundred times a night.) As noted above, the effects of this condition mimic those of ADD.

      The ADD drugs I was taking, while they helped somewhat, were only treating symptoms. The underlying cause was the sleep apnea, and once that was remedied I was transformed into a different person, with one caveat: a lifetime of negative self-perceptions has left its mark, and a concerted effort is needed to remove lifetime habits and a self-image that, once the condition is remedied, no longer applies to the “new me.”

      For these reasons, I recommend that everyone who has been diagnosed with ADD (especially those without the hyperactivity component) get themselves tested for Sleep Apnea. To properly fix any problem, it’s essential to really know what’s “broken.”

    • #51218

      You may want to check out Brain Advancement coaching The training lasts 4 months and works on auditory memory, processing speed, attention, visual memory, and more. The first month you work on visual motor skills, reflex integration which can help with many symptoms and the listening program. It was designed for individuals with ADD/ADHD, learning disabilities, dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia. Some coaches can do the training over skype so you don’t have to travel.

      • This reply was modified 4 years, 5 months ago by jjot.
    • #51229

      It’s possible to have ADHD and Sleep Apnea (Exhibit A: my husband). The difference is that if a neurotypical person develops sleep apnea, they may still be able to function, whereas an ADHD person barely does (and my husband will debate the “barely” also — he forgets many things when he travels, but never his CPAP machine, and is religious about using it). If you snore and/or fall asleep within seconds of your head hitting the pillow, you (anyone really) should get checked for sleep apnea.

      There are books about executive function for adults which suggest ways to break down a problem and address it. There was also an this interesting one about planning your tasks/day through visualization ( I will never be able to plan a whole day in advance — are you kidding me? — but I use his visualization technique all the time for projects that I may never have started otherwise (and even to reset myself during the day, when I suddenly have no idea what I am supposed to be doing or even what I am currently doing). I found that by visualizing the next moments or next set of tasks I can proceed without tripping over feelings (and I have plenty of feelings of all sorts, most negative).

    • #51307

      Ardrake, ever think you might be selling yourself (at least!) a little more than a bit short on your talents and what you can do with them to help yourself by using them to inspire others? Photography is not a hobby for half-baked slouchers. Or at least people who think they can get ahead in it by taking the easy way. It takes considerable talent, patience and a knowledge of more than just basic “finger-counting” math most of use to balance our checkbooks.
      And, as a fellow writer, I noticed this rather harsh selfie of sorts that stood out like a flashing red stop light in the middle of a one light town way off on some gawdforsaken windswept prairie “town” smack dab in “Flyoverianna.”
      “One of my passions and creative outlets is photography. While I may love these things, however, my issues with learning make pursuing them difficult and frustrating.” Learning what? It’s obvious you can think on your feet and write a cohesive sentence. Some of us ADHDers (“in spades,” as one Doc officially diagnosed me as having) are great for leaving lots of dangling participles hanging off of one trunk of a sentence or another. Judge Roy Bean never came close to hanging as many guys named Dangled Participle as I have, yet I managed to graduate from h.s. and college a half semester ahead of the more organized kids all voted “most likely to succeed.” I didn’t put this in to brag, but to share hope, do we need a lot of that stuff daily, or hourly.
      If you can take photos after mastering all the various lighting and spatial measurements required to pull off a nice photo lots of people besides your mom, (surprised dad, even more surprised inlaws and kids) will be proud of enough to urge you to even think about making a few bucks on the side, GO FOR IT. Heck, the guy who lived next door to my parents, wasn’t primarily a professional photographer. He was the director of my state university’s symphony. He took the photos for our wedding 34 years ago this July 2nd, and he did an excellent job.
      Never sell your talents short when you can always make good use of your time by improving them to become yet another “shingle” to affix your name and dreams to. Even if you never get the publicity and profits you feel you’ll deserve (especially in woodcrafting and writing) you’ll never know who you have inspired just by sticking in there with your determination to ignore the cheapskates who oooh n’ awww, but grunt when it comes time to reach for their wallets, or the excuse-makers who won’t return your calls, you know deep inside what your efforts are really worth and most importantly, what you are worth to the Man who created us all and your family. I usually don’t get preachy, but a grateful sense of humility that’s pointed upwards never hurts. He listens. In a world that doesn’t understand, much less appreciate what ADHD is, how it affects its “owners” and the people they love and work with, it’s always great to know He’s up there to call on for help. Oh, and one other thing, just like your talents that you’ve developed and I hope you’ll enjoy using for the remainder of your life, you and I [own] our condition and shouldn’t hesitate to make the best of its best attributes.

    • #51337

      Thank you for sharing your struggles. It helps people like myself not feel so completely alone and worthless. I have been semi-diagnosed with ADHD, and have just stopped my 2nd round of meds- adderral then focalin to no avail besides just being speedy and tired afterwords. I won’t go into too much detail, but I grew up in self hatred and failed academics, and am now, for the 3rd time trying to at least get an associates degree. Same low-paying job life, and the burden of being dependable on my succesful family that doesn’t know what to make of me. There are two things that I want to say, well maybe three. Getting an accurate diagnosis is NOT easy. I tried ADD meds thinking, along with my psychologist that it was the root cause of my self-doubt, and struggles with repeatedly failing math and science, even after extra effort and tutoring. NOPE, and I am pretty angry about the money that I used to try and afford the pyschiatrist visits and the meds themselves. This brings me to my second point- we, as adults are SOL when it comes to getting a proper diagnosis of a learning disability. Thousands, and I mean a lot of money is needed to get through an initial first stage of testing for one as an adult since no insurance will cover it. I have even called and talked to a local Dr. who diagnoses and treats LD’s in children, and she said herself that the reason why it is totally unaffordable to be properly diagnosed with a learning disability as an adult is because the thought is that “well, you’ve made it through life to this point, so you should be ok”. I bit my tongue and thanked her for her time and hung up.

      I’m pretty sure that I either have a specific learning disability or dyscalcula, or dyslexia, or some other failure of executive function. My big time problem with the mental health community is that the people who are really struggling, like yourself and others are most likely the ones that do not make the kind of money to afford mental healthcare in the first place. You end up feeling angry at the mental health world because if you’re not forking over large sums of money, because most insurance doesn’t cover what is needed you are denied help. Thus, only children can afford help under rich parents, and financially successful people who “might” have a problem can consistently see a mental health professional. Maybe they’re sad that they didn’t get that million dollar bonus this year. Meanwhile, i should just jump off a cliff. Sorry for sounding angry, but even when you try to enroll in self help online based things for dyselxics or executive function assitance programs or exercises it’s show me the money first. Well, i’m in this damn position because i haven’t been able to excel at making a living wage.

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