I’ve never been diagnosed with a learning disabilty. I have a very high IQ. My reading comprehension is off-the-charts, and I have an excellent memory for words.

But I don’t understand numbers. I never have.

Simple addition is extremely taxing. Looking at numbers is like looking at something written in Greek: they make little sense to me. Multiplication and division are dark mysteries. It seems to take my mind a long time to recognise what the numbers represen. It’s difficult to explain, but, for example, I can see a number 9, and know what it means, but it seems to lose significance if I’m trying to combine it with another number. I know I’m not explaining this well, but I don’t really understand it myself. Sometimes, numbers jumble a bit in my mind. If I’m trying to add 12 and 15, I can’t “picture” the numbers in my head without them becoming mixed around.

This is, of course, very difficult for me in every day life. Just try to imagine standing in a store and trying to figure out what the price of an item would be with 20% off, and being near to tears in frustration of not being able to puzzle it out, or needing to figure out what 7% tax on an item will be and being unable to do it. Simply adding together the prices of two items is difficult enough for me.

I can easily memorize phone numbers, but have never mastered the multiplication tables. It’s not for lack of trying, either. During my school years, I practiced math for hours on end, recited the multiplcation tables over and over, and still made no progress whatsoever. I had special tutoring programs, educational tapes, and various learning aids which didn’t seem to help. Eventually, they gave up on me, and allowed me to use a calculator. I never would have graduated otherwise.

Is there such a thing as a learning disability in mathematics, but not affecting other areas of learning? Have you ever heard of anyone else with this problem?