Comprehension

Oh the joys, oh the struggles, and oh the woes this word brings to my ears. I hated this word growing up and honestly it has come back to haunt me as an adult, now that I am looking for a work from home position. Growing up I was diagnosed like so many of the 90’s kids with ADHD, though I was never very active, kept to myself for the most part, and I paid attention, unless the kid next to me was bugging the rest of the table (but no one paid attention then). So why the diagnoses? My mom is no longer here for me to ask, and as she would be the only reliable source, I can’t say for sure but I have a feeling it had to do with my lack of comprehension and processing. If my father were home helping with my homework he would simply write down the answers for me, so I wouldn’t be up until midnight in the first grade doing homework. So I guess that spurred the doctor visit when I was in third grade, my thought is they had had enough and the hours were getting later for my homework.

Let me give you an example, I remember all to well having to do these once a week work sheets that came home on yellow paper, the whole grade had to do them, I don’t remember if they were extra credit or required, but my aunt was a teacher at my school and I had to do them either way. The yellow sheet had always had math on it and would ask questions like how many triangles, if you have 2, 4, 6,8, and then some random number off in the distance how did you get to that number? And while I could tell you the directions and how to do problems like that had been explained more than once to me and at great length on several occasions, I could never get the right answer. I remember crying more than once because I felt stupid, even my well meaning aunt just made me feel even worse when she tried to explain things.

Reading wasn’t much better for me either, I could tell you words but not tell you much about what I had just read, unless I took an hour to read the book. I didn’t find a love of reading grade level books until I was older. Interestingly, I loved being read to at home from books that were above my grade level and could tell you what had happened almost word for word. This made history an easy love and usually an easy grade for me because all I had to do was listen during class and get the answers right on the test, while geography is still my sworn foe. Spelling was no better as I could spell words out loud correctly but not on paper to save my life. In middle school once spelling tests were no longer a plague but vocabulary (which I loved, again listening to definitions) tests were required and the words had to spelled correctly or even getting the definition right you would get the answer wrong, I learned that by writing each word at least twenty times the letters would come out without much effort. Sometimes it took a hundred times, but something about not getting vocabulary words right when I knew the right answer I just couldn’t spell them irked me.

No one gave me tools to handle my problems, instead they told my mom here give her these meds and it’ll work out. My recent application to a particular job sent me back to those days of feeling stupid, I had a applied for a position and was given from Wednesday to Friday to read 79 pages, complete additional training on the 79 pages, and then take what they call their exam on Friday. Easy right? Yeah, no. While the theory of the job (a typical win for me, I can recite all sorts of handy math theories too, I don’t think I ever made more than a C- on a math test. Same goes for grammar, thus the many errors I make even though I am trying to better my grammar.) I scored outstanding on, doing the job I bombed. I watched their tutorial videos and read the materials and I did the practice questions, but even the practice questions I bombed. And it made me go back to that little girl I was who felt so isolated and alone and above all dumb, I felt dumb. It wasn’t until I got to Shakespeare, Poe, Dickens and I could explain it better than anyone in the class that I started to feel smart. (It took hours longer to read than most of my classmates I can tell you, to read those books because I also found I have to reread pages multiple times typically to comprehend something fully.) Not smart in a hoity toity look at me way, but a oh I can do something good kind of way. I wonder now if someone had told my mom, no wait she needs more than meds she needs help with this and that, and I had received the tools I needed to make learning an easier task would have the same troubles as an adult?

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