How I Am Different…the Prelude

So I have a little Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).  OK, maybe more than a little.  That means a few focus problems.  Issues with long speeches.  Trouble with concentrating on just one thing at a time.  Being totally overwhelmed with what to do with all of the paper in my life, so usually it just gets stacked up and ignored.  Sometimes being overwhelmed with too much going on around me so I can’t focus…and sometimes just relaxed in the chaos because it seems like my normal.

And I have a little dyslexia.  That means I turned a few letters around when I was learning how to write.  It took me forever to figure out which shoe belonged on which foot.  I can’t conceive of North-South-East-West.  And I can’t reverse mirror images in my mind (causing hours of entertainment for my family members as they recount and act out “Kim Trying To Use A Curling Iron” and the interesting looks that have come as a result.)

And then there is my hand/eye coordination.  Pretty pathetic.  My handwriting is often illegible.  Things like sewing, knitting, crocheting, making stained glass, untangling or making jewelry, cutting a straight line or drawing anything that resembles my intent…..all miserable failures.  As some of you can attest.  If you can stop the hysterical laughter.

While these things were evident early on in my life, they were never defined as a disability.  Had I seen doctors and been diagnosed, they surely would have been.

Learning to write was a major issue – I remember crying in my early years of school because I wanted to write perfect letters every time, but the cross between dyslexia and my hand-eye coordination meant even my best efforts were C work.  And since my parents saw the struggles, Cs for handwriting were always fine and treated as a far bigger deal by me than them.

Reading should have been a struggle, but I don’t believe it ever was.  Having parents that read to me helped.  I loved stories and being able to discover them for myself must have been one of my all time biggest thrills.  I might have had to work harder at the start….but who knows what is normal when you are that young?  It was worth whatever effort it took.  Once I got going, it was my greatest joy.

Throwing a ball and things like that were certainly issues, but it was all attributed to me being unathletic and uncoordinated, not to anything like “poor hand-eye coordination”.  And in the miserable picking of teams… yep, I was always at the end.  High school biology….a nightmare.  Not because of the crayfish and frogs we had to dissect, but because we had to draw what we saw and pass a test based on that!!!!

Now I am well into my adult years.  Nothing has really changed.  Those qualities are still there and if you look for them, they are readily visible.  They will always cause issues for me at times.  I once mentioned having ADD to a a boss, and was told I shouldn’t say that out loud where others could hear.  I was told that it would make people think I was not a capable employee.

As you might guess, that didn’t stop me.  In fact, it made me resolve to help people understand.   There are benefits to these “deficiencies.”  The ADD has made me a really good and creative problem solver.  My mind can easily brainstorm a list of potential solutions.  I am not an “in the box” thinker….my mind can’t keep focusing on that box and always wants to venture to the outside!  I can juggle multiple projects at one time and move from one to another with ease.  And I work pretty quickly….I have to finish before my attention span runs out!

There are problems – for example. I make more than my share of clerical errors and can’t see them as mistakes afterward.  Since I work with detailed information a lot, and a slight of hand can mean millions of dollars of difference for my clients, I’ve learned to find people who are meticulous at proofreading….they check my work with open eyes, knowing every letter, every number matters.  I will hear a phone number, write it down wrong, and then even if someone repeats it back to me and I check it, I will see those wrong numbers as the correct ones I heard.  So I learned to focus on one digit at a time instead of the number as a whole.  It’s probably turned into a strength now….I pay attention.

The dyslexia….well, not a lot of benefits, but how often do we need to to reverse mirror images?  I have learned that short straight hair is me!   I have GPSs, so I can find my way around.  Except when that crazy woman tells me to go North, South, East or West….in which case I just keep driving until she begins with rights and lefts and “Make a U-turn immediately.”

My hand/eye coordination….my handwriting is seldom seen.  And a messy signature…..isn’t that imperfect scrawl much cooler than one that is perfectly handwritten?  (It is if we all agree it is!!!)  And no one expects me to draw anything…..all of my nieces and nephews learned quickly they could draw it much better than me. How I have helped their self-esteem!  The lack of athletic ability?  Only because I never thought I had it.  While the hand-eye coordination is off, not all sports require that.  And for the ones that do, I possibly could have mastered them if I had given them a chance.

We all have some sort of shortcomings, some sort of disability. Things that have probably been with us from our youth that we were ashamed of.  Often we try to hide those things that are very much a part of who we are.  But they impact our lives daily, and can cause so much stress when we hide them.  But if you are looking at them from one angle and seeing them as negatives, cut your eyes to a different angle and figure out how you can make them your greatest assets.  As in most things, we first have to acknowledge them.  And see how they impact our life.  And figure out how they can go from a deficit and instead be some of the best parts of who we are.

I love the term “differently abled.”  Because we all are!  Different and unique and special and worthwhile.  Not one accident among us.  We were created not just to exist, but for purpose.  “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10.)  We need to keep our eyes open for these good works and get them done! 

And have you noticed we weren’t all created and put on our own little planets to do these things?  We were put here to work at it all together.  You cover my deficiencies and I will try to cover yours.  You try to help me see how my deficiencies can be assets and I will attempt to show you the same. Good works await us…..and we can accomplish them together.  The whole “differently abled” lot of us.  That’s why we were made just the way we are and why we are here, together.

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