Thoughts on Coping with Learning Issues

Here’s the deal. I’m dyslexic.

I uptake information best by hearing, speaking and doing—but not necessarily all at the same time. In fact, as I get older, I get more easily overwhelmed by external stimuli.

I was not diagnosed until I was a freshman in college; I miserably failed a biology exam although I knew the information.  The professor took pity on me and allowed me to take it untimed in his office with some assistance. I aced it, and immediately went to be tested for a learning disability.

I used to love, I mean LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, reading. I don’t as much anymore.  This last bought of graduate school pretty much killed that.

I mean, I still enjoy reading, but it takes me forever to get through a book for pleasure now. I’m more apt to go pull scholarly literature and read it.

Now, this is in part because I’m a huge nerd. But it is a coping mechanism for me.

Scholarly lit should have: an abstract, an intro, a lit review, a methodology description, study findings, a discussion and a conclusion.

My brain knows what to expect, and I can more easily string together copious amounts of information that may seem unrelated.  And to be clear, I uptake massive amounts of info, and when it’s in my brain, it is IN MY BRAIN and available for calling up and cross-referencing.

I also like statistics.

Yes, I am a nerd, but I like numeric patterns. I’ve taught myself over the years to *see* the patterns and be able to relate large data sets with each other.

I was listening to a podcast recent about how fellow dyslexics tend to have jumbled brain operating systems, but we are amazeballs at reorganizing data so that it makes sense to us.  We tend to be a pretty creative bunch.

If I were a computer, it’d be like I was a cute computer with a flash memory—takes forever to upload, but when it does, it’s there baby!

Since becoming a parent, life has become more…complicated. Complication can be pretty distressing for those of us who learn differently—which includes me and Hope, who is ADHD.

For me, this has manifested as a rigid, rabid-like adherence to evidence based studies on issues that we deal with at home. A lot of books while based on research cite too little of it and are organized in such a way I simply cannot process them.

Don’t worry, I’m like this at work too. You want to piss me off in the office?  Say the phrase, “Best Practices” and have NO research or data to substantiate that it is indeed a best practice. It brings out the worst in me. Partly because I’m an advocate of quality research, but more selfishly because I have trouble processing random “ish we do.”

(Now, don’t ask me why I like to write so much when I’ve got all this going on. I write for work, the blog and the podcast—not sure how it all works in my brain, but for some reason it does. Go figure. Thank you Spell Check and Grammarly.)

The last parenting book that I stumbled through, Hope and I raged, fought, mutually dropped Eff bombs and I had to call the emergency hotline with my agency because it was such a mess.  Um, yeah, I really don’t do parenting books anymore; they get lost in translation.

I’ve been really struggling with coping with this form of difference lately; I imagine that Hope has as well—I know she has. I’m starting to do a lot more skimming about coping with learning issues in hopes of finding some evidence based recommendations that might meet us both where we are.

I’m grateful for the recent recommendations about Brene Brown—I’m waiting for the audio version of her books to become available at the library since I *know* there’s no sense in my lying and saying I’m going to read them.

In the meantime, the recommendation has helped me discover a nice treasure trove of literature about shame, parenting, adolescence, trauma and the larger philosophy of shame and its role and process in emotional development. There’s some interesting stuff out there, like if we experience moral shame we are likely to be willing to resist avoidance and be willing to apologize, but with image shame we are pissed, avoid and refuse to acknowledge our issues at all. Interestingly, guilt isn’t at play with these two types of shame (there are at least 2 other kinds of shame); so guilt trips are never going to work.  Our own shame coupled with other emotions impact how we accept apologies.

Seriously it’s interesting stuff, so thanks for the Brené Brown recommendation; she’s interesting, but there’s some really awesome research going on in this area that speaks to me.

So, resources…holla at me with YouTube videos, audiobooks and scholarly research for how to manage ADHD, ODD, teen drama, older child adoptive drama…ya know…all the good drama stuff.


About AdoptiveBlackMom

I'm a single Black professional woman living in the DC area. I adopted my now adult daughter in 2014, and this blog chronicles my journey. Feel free to contact me at, on Facebook at Adoptive Black Mom, and on Twitter @adoptiveblkmom. ©, 2013-2022. All rights reserved. (Don't copy my ish without credit!) View all posts by AdoptiveBlackMom

5 responses to “Thoughts on Coping with Learning Issues

  • Marieke

    Christine moers has a youd tube channel on therapeutic parenting. I’ve read her blog for years and she makes alot of sense to me….

  • Snarl Furillo

    I am sooooooo not an expert seeing as I was diagnosed with ADD like ten minutes ago at the age of 30 but one book I’ve really really found helpful is “The Queen of Distraction” by Terry Matlen. It is aimed at women rather than teenagers but it might be nice for Hope (or you and Hope together) because it addresses the person with ADD rather than a parent or partner trying to “manage” them.

    It’s really easy to read. There are never more than about four paragraphs without a new header. Everything is in “easily digestible chunks.” It’s very practical and oriented towards concrete solutions, like “buy a waterproof timer to keep in the shower so you don’t take more than ten minutes” and “keep a separate ideas notebook so your day planner doesn’t get overwhelmed with stuff you are going to do someday as long as you don’t forget.” I’ve been reading it a chapter at a time and then trying some of the tips, adjusting, seeing what works, then moving on.

    I’ve liked it because even though some of the advice seems obvious, it’s all phrased in a way that’s really compatible with how I think/interact with the world, which I guess is much more ADD flavored than I realized.

    • Snarl Furillo

      Also, I was just looking at some old entries that I missed and I see sooooo much in your description of Hope that reminds me of things I really struggled with before starting to get my ADD under control, and also of the huge gap between how I experience the world and how other people experience the world. That entry about giving her a chore list and then not understanding how it didn’t get done and Hope also didn’t understand how it didn’t get done….ahhh oh my god that’s so me. I both laughed and cringed. If you EVER, EVER EVER want to talk to someone with ADD about strategies PLEASE EMAIL ME. PLEASE. FOR REAL.

      Also- does Hope have an IEP that specifically addresses her ADD (and not just any diagnoses she has from tough early life)? She’s a smart girl if she placed into Honors. An IEP could help if one isn’t in place.

  • tmyers4096

    Hi, could you share some of the resources for the different types of shame, and responses to it? Thanks in advance!

  • Snarl Furillo

    Came back to suggest a couple of books (that you probably are already aware of but I figured I’d take a shot?) that I hope will be research-intensive enough for you/organized in a way that works for you. I’m sorry, I don’t know as many journal articles.

    Russell Barkley’s Defiant Teen:

    Evidence-based parenting program designed for ADHD and ODD kids. I linked to the clinicians guide which seems more like what you’re looking for than the related parent’s guide.

    There’s also Late, Lost and Unprepared:

    And Smart But Scattered Teens:

    Those might be too “parenting guide” style for you based on what you said but they are supposed to be evidence-based as well. Smart But Scattered has an audiobook!

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