HomeLearning DifficultiesLearning Disabilities & ADHDIdentifying a Learning Disability Asks: What Is It Like to Have a Learning Disability?

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By Scott Kellerer

Q: How did you get through the tough times at school?

A: There were times I just wanted to get up and walk out of the classroom because I was having a hard time understanding what was going on in the class. I got through the tough times at school by playing basketball at lunch and letting all the aggression out so that I wouldn't have any built up inside.

Q: What were you really good at doing, and did you get a chance to show it off at school?

A: I was good at sports, especially in high school. Sports came naturally to me. I played basketball all four years. Once it was time for the game to start, my mind was focused on only one thing - to get out there and give everything I had. I left all the struggles I had in school that day and went out and played. I was known for throughout the league for my ability to play basketball. My sophomore and junior years I played on the guys' volleyball team, too. These were the times I felt the best about myself.

Q: How did you handle homework?

A: Homework was a very difficult thing for me to deal with. I often missed what the teacher gave out for homework because I was distracted by something else. Whenever I did get the homework assignment, I had a hard time wanting to do it because I knew it would take me awhile to finish. I hated spending so much time on my homework when it took the other kids half the amount of time it took me. But I figured I could do a little at a time. I did an hour of work, then took a break and watched a half hour of TV or played a half hour of video games. Then I would go back to work for another hour if I had more homework to do. I noticed that seemed to do the job.

Q: What have you learned about the way you learn?

A: I've learned I need to be interacting and doing hands-on types of things to learn.

Q: Are there strategies you use as an adult?

A: I've learned over the years that I can't position myself in a place where I'm going to be easily distracted. I have to place myself where I will be able to pay attention.

Q: Do you have some suggestions for kids still in school to make their struggles a little easier?

A: I would suggest keeping a positive outlook. I know a lot of times kids think they can't do something when they really can. Don't be hesitant to ask questions. Like they say, there is no such thing as a "stupid question." Most teachers won't ask you if you need help; you have to ask them. But teachers are there to help you.

Q: What do you wish you'd known earlier that you'd like to pass on to other kids now?

A: Something I wish I had known sooner is that teachers are truly there to help you. They aren't just there to teach a class. Not asking for help and trying to figure it out on your own will only frustrate you. I used to get so frustrated at my school work because I couldn't figure it out on my own. If there's one thing I'd tell other kids, it's to ask for help when you need it. There is nothing to be ashamed about.

Comments from readers

" I also want to say my teacher really believes in me and knows that even though I have Partial Trisomy 20 q which causes me to have ADP she thinks I could possibly still drive . and also learn more and go for a GED when my parents underestimate sometimes but they still want me to make my dreams come true . but there is hope my teacher taught me to never give up no matter how difficult life is Sorry I didn't put this comment with the other "
" There is a light at the end of the tunnel. When a student doesn't quit. I was born with a severe learning disability and a near drowning at age six made it worse. I learned how to read at age fourteen, it wasn't until elenth grade a clear picture came through helping me to fully understand what each subject was about. When a student is able to relate to the fact each subject came from somebody's imagination, all they have to do is continue on with what was created a 100, or 1000 years ago. Our educational system is constantly moving forward showing our imagination is looking for new and better ways to do it. Learning is exposing the problem with an open mind to allow a natural ability to come to life. Being patient is the key. I am 50 now and have puzzled psychologists with my success. Nothing is ever done right, when nothing is done at all, for even failure contains knowledge. "
"I am 22 and have ADHD and a LD. My family and I have know that I was disabled since I started school though my mom suspected it when I was starting Pre-K. Growing up school was really hard for me since I struggled with reading and math. I was lucky enough to have a mom who was a teacher and knew what sort of accommodations I was eligible for and made sure I got them. On top of my academic problems I was also a little socially awkward. As I've gotten older I began to excel in school with my classes and became less awkward. I did how ever get experience my peers questioning my intellect because I was "special ed". Let me tell you it's not fun, I would have been eligible for G&T classes but I was disabled and you couldn't be both were I went to school. I have nearly failed classes quite a few times and always feel embarrassed when this happens because I'm smart and that is not supposed to happen to smart people. I am not in college studying to be a teacher. I want to ! be the role-model I never really had when I was in school. I don't like how students with disabilities still have to deal with stigma because they are a little different, so I want to change that by being in the education system. "
"I am a 68 year old male. As my wife reads these comments to me, it brings tears to my eyes and pain in my heart to know that children are still suffering with learning disabilities. I discovered I was dyslexic at the age of 40. Drugs, alcohol & suicide pleagued my life. After being diagnosed I became a motivational speaker & a professional model. And to my amazement I have been mentoring young people in area schools with my own program & my own classroom. I have received numerous awards for my program, called Dare To Be Great that myself & my wife have designed. Presently, we are working on a website that should be up & running by June 1 to be called Dyslexia Our goal is to enlighten society on the everyday challenges of a dyslexic person."
"when i was a kid i didnt know i had a.d.d and my classes were to had for me to do my teachers didnt pay attention and not everbody gets the rights to special education now thats enough about me. now my kids have the same problem i had in school. my son was well treated in different schools and understood the problems (learing disorders) he has and right now i haveing problems with the middle school he goes to.and thats because they call themselfs a blue ribbon school.which the neglect the child which needs help and and they refused to help him and this causes him to get mad due to the fact that his grades are super low now he dont want to go to school anymore."