Do you have a learning disability?

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Dear Madam,

I am currently in the Science stream of First PUC. I performed poorly in the mid-terms and internals. It is not that I am not interested in Science, but I fail to grasp the subject well.
I constantly forget the theories and derivations I learn  in Physics when I switch over to another subject. I get confused even if the number changes or the problem gets twisted. In Math, practice does not help my case. I forget the steps and make mistakes. People tell me that a change of mindset and things will help me focus.

How do I achieve this? I need to be able to work on multiple subjects at the same time and retain what I learn. This has led me to give  up hope on taking the AIEEE exams. My classmates are ahead of me in class. My parents do not understand my issues.  I have been following all the advice that’s available on the Internet and I still face this problem. How can I strengthen my basics? Which books should I refer to. Can I switch to Commerce if I don’t want to study Science next year? Please help.

Student

Dear Student,

I understand that you would like to do well in your exams, and are putting in your best efforts. But you don’t seem to be getting the rewards of your hard work. This is causing you distress and you are worried about your future. Have you been facing this problem in your earlier years in school as well, or has it only surfaced now since your work load and stress has increased? If you have always been facing this situation, then maybe you could get assessed by a clinical psychologist to see if there is any kind of ‘learning’ problem. However, if you have been experiencing this problem only now, then it may be the result of stress and anxiety surrounding your performance which is not allowing you to focus. For this you should try some deep-breathing, meditation and yoga which may help calm your mind.

You should also try to understand the source of your stress. Some of the possible causes could be anxiety about your future livelihood, anxiety about what society (family, peers, etc.) say/think about you, fear of your parents, fear of not living up to your parents expectations, fear of not living up to your own expectations, fear of failure, etc. Once you identify the source of your stress, you can deal with it — either by talking to a counsellor, or an adult whom you trust, who can help you reinterpret and reframe your concerns. All the best

Dear Madam,

I’m a third year engineering student ( E&C). I am unable to concentrate in class and can’t study on my own. My friends believe it is because of my lack of general knowledge. Please suggest ways I can learn from this.

Avinash

Dear Avinash,

You have brought up two issues. The first is that you can’t concentrate in class. Is this because there is something or someone distracting you, or is it because you cannot understand what is being taught? Again, you may not be able to understand at home because of the same reasons, and because you are not following what is being taught in class. If this problem is a recent occurrence, then either you are distracted or stressed. However, if you have always had this problem, then there may be a deeper, underlying reason for it.

The second issue that you have brought up is that of your friends deciding that you don’t have skills and academic and other areas. This judgment of theirs can be significant, or insignificant, depending on what you believe about yourself in this regard. Do you believe that you are not ‘good enough’ or capable, or do you believe that you believe in yourself and know that you can achieve whatever you decide to achieve? If you believe in yourself, your friends will be forced to believe in you, whether you get the marks or not. If you don’t believe in yourself, then don’t expect your friends to. Remember, what they say is merely a reflection of what you believe about yourself.

Success in the workplace, and in life, is not a function of mere marks. Success is a function of many other things, the most important of which is self-esteem. It also depends on your confidence, your communication skills, your ability to lead a team, your ability to be a part of a team, etc. While marks help, the only real role they play is that of opening some doors. If certain doors don’t open, some others will, provided you are willing to look for them and go through them.

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