Understanding my learning disorder

My Learning Difficulties (Disorders)

Ever since I can remember, I have had trouble in school. I wondered if my social anxiety and my difficulty in comprehending classroom lessons was a result of my family moving to Tokyo when I was 7 years old.

As a researcher, I know that changing environments can be a source an anxiety for young children. I also know that learning a second language does not produce developmental delays. Yet I struggled to understand the challenges that I faced as a student and that have stayed with me today.

Specific Challenges

These challenges included, difficulty remembering names and dates, challenges with calculating and understanding numbers, always feeling like I could not organize my thoughts - that the words I put into writing would not make any sense to others. I was unable to focus if the classroom was too cold or the lights were too bright. I dreaded the classroom activity of reading-out-loud, and would rehearse the portion over and over before my turn, denying me the ability to comprehend the rest of the text. Because I was "not getting it", the people who tried to help me became frustrated and labeled me as "difficult". I saw myself as stupid and desperately wanted validation.

Although I did not excel in my studies I had emotional intelligence, which allowed me to adapt so that I could still make friends and manage myself through relationships.

While I understood that I had trouble learning and organizing thoughts, I did not remember if I participated in any official psychological assessments. When I went to visit my parents for Christmas break, my mom told me that she had kept the reports from my assessments, one taking place in 1st grade before moving to Japan and one in 8th grade after living in Japan for many years. Having spent my 2021 year learning and taking courses on assessing specific learning difficulties, I was able to read and understand my psychological assessments.


My 1st grade psych evaluation
My first grade evaluation

Both assessments were similar noting how sweet and hard working I was, yet showing difficulties in academic tasks, such as reading, writing, and math. They noted how I would not participate in class.

On the IQ test (WISC III) I scored in the 9th percentile for reading speed, while reading accuracy and comprehension was significantly higher. With these results the psychologist suggested that I get extra help in classes of which I did not accept. I think I didn't want to stand out even more from my classmates. Not wanting to stand out is a big factor for kids not accepting the extra help that they need to succeed in schools. That is why I believe that educating not only the teachers and parents, but the fellow students about accepting their peers with different learning styles is so important. (That is a project I am passionate about)


Dyslexia and other learning difficulties (ADHD, Autism) affect more than just the person's learning abilities. As you can see it affects the whole self. After learning that these difficulties are not my "laziness" or "stupidity", instead they result from a difference in neuro-processing, I felt validated. The struggle is still present but I can name it. I can learn more about it and know that it doesn't define me.

Just knowing that dyslexia isn't just a simple case of "reading difficulties" helped me interpret my difficulties in a new way.

If you or your children can relate to my struggles, please don't wait to seek support. We may be different but that is okay. We just need the specific techniques that our brains need.

If you are curious to know more about topics relating to special learning difficulties (disorders) then feel free to reach out to me through Twitter or email.

Resources for Specific Learning Difficulties: These websites can be a good starting point in your journey to understand you children or yourself more.