What it is like to be learning disabled

It isn’t pleasant.

Suppose you’re required, for some reason, to go to some auditorium.

The seats are banked, and dark, and there’s a spotlight on the stage. As you enter and find a seat, a man enters the stage. Silence falls over the auditorium. All of a sudden, the man yells and points. Right at YOU!

“YOU! Tell me the last book you read that starts with the letter M!”

You are clearly expected to respond. But … but .. last book that starts with M? What?

Other people are looking at you. You hear some of them whispering.

“Well?” the man says

You’re still flummoxed. The whispering grows louder. You hear some giggles.

“Don’t you read?” he asks, sarcasm dripping from each word.

“Yes sir, I do read”.

“Well do you read BOOKS????”

“Yes sir, I read books”

There’s outright laughter at this point

“Well, perhaps you don’t know the letters? Did you learn the ALPHABET at some point?”

Then, thankfully, he switches to another person, another topic.

You want to leave. But you aren’t allowed. And the questions will, inevitably, swing back to you. Again and again.

“What’s your home phone number backwards?”
“How many buttons are there in your house?”
“How many steps did you walk today?”

and on and on. And you can’t leave. Ever.

Now imagine that, instead of being an adult with a fully developed sense of self, you’re a kid.
And imagine that, instead of one lecture, this went on all the time.
And imagine that, if you got the courage to complain, people looked uncomprehending.

Welcome to my world.
You might say “But no one asks those kinds of questions!”
Well, not to you, if you’re normal. To you, those questions all seem normal. I made up those questions to be things that you NT people won’t be able to answer, won’t even BEGIN to be able to answer. Because that’s how we are with some of what life demands of us. That’s how we will react. Because, too often, you NT people are asking us to do what is simply not possible for us to do. And you’re reacting with disbelief when we say we can’t.


  1. Peter,
    I want to commend you for informing and educating the general public about LD. You are so lucky your mom started a school and you are part of it.I have to say, going back 40 yrs ago, you guys are the trail blazers.

    I wish I can say the same for my family…unfortunately they are anything but supportive. They are rather destructive so I am here, trying to educate the public as well. I am trying to reach out to the Asian community and inform them about LD. You’d be surprised how many folks just dont want to deal with LD. It’s sad they are the voice for their kids.

    My kid has High Funct. Autism…I suspect my husband is somewhere on the ASD. I have NLD…

    I would like to be a career counselor for folks with LD. I don’t know if I can b/c I have nld myself.

    Any suggestions?

  2. Hi Ginni

    Career counselors are definitely needed!

    Do you have Yvona Fast’s book? (Employment for individuals with Asperger syndrome or Non-verbal ld)?

    Are you on the mailing list NLD-in-common or NLD-adult?


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