Long story: When I started grade school I was considered a 'gifted' student and tested in the 90s percentiles in all subjects, including math. I learned to read fluently within a few weeks and my reading and language skills excelled far above average. I was very energetic and unfocused. Most of my teachers thought me to have AD(H)D although my father was not receptive to this idea. Even while I was testing high in the subject of Math, when dealing with numbers larger than 10 I tended to count on my fingers or using hash marks and make simple computation errors. This was regarded as sort of a childish personality quirk along with the behaviors resembling ADHD and didn't present a true problem until the learning of my times tables.
Going through elementary and middle school, these problems such as the one with the times tables seemed to increase. I could grasp onto formulas and methods more quickly than my peers. I was above average in correct set-up for word problems. But basic addition and subtraction and memorization of number facts continued to elude me. I had a much easier time in beginning geometry than algebra. Within the last years of middle school, I had to deal with more complex algebra involving letters and all comprehension I had fell apart. I could learn how to feebly solve an algebra problem one day and draw a blank the next.
At that time, some family problems took me out of school. I barely passed 8th grade after repeating it twice and then dropped out of high school.
Shortly before I dropped out of school approximately 6 years ago, my father ordered a comprehensive IQ test which showed high IQs related to Verbal comprehension and vocabulary. Far below average scores related to processing speed, comprehension of 3d space and math fluency. And low average scores in calculation and applied problems. The test rules out conclusively a possible diagnoses of ADHD, which puzzles me, as I continue to struggle with its most recognizable symptoms and continue to be identified as such by people I have never discussed it with.
After looking at the results the testing psychologist tells me, unofficially, that I have difficulty remembering number facts. He compares it dyslexia, but does not use the term dyscalculia. He tells me this is not a big deal if I learn to rely on using a calculator. He also tells me that despite my high reading ability I showed a notable inablility to 'sound out' a word; I apparently taught myself to read with an alternative method taught to dyslexic students, by memorizing each word as a whole rather than an aggregate of sounds. All of these statements only exist within my memory-- although the test reflects a difficulty with mathematics there is no mention or comparison to a learning disorder.
Years later I remember what the psychologist told me and I google "math dyslexia" and find information on dyscalculia. Things that I previously considered personality quirks are also symptoms: accelerated language ability, confusion of left and right, easily disorientated, difficulty reading analog clocks, little to no sense of time or direction, difficulty remembering sequences, absent-mindedness, and difficulty putting names to faces.
I now have a GED and am in college. Having failed my intro to mathematics class, I'm considering applying for benefits for learning disabled students. The trouble is, I was never officially diagnosed. I do not have health insurance, so the testing for diagnoses would cost, at the very least, $600... not a small amount of money for me. And I am so unsure as to whether I truly have the disorder or no, considering my very early success in the subject in grade school. There is a nagging part of my brain that if I try harder/one more time, I will find myself to be a normal, capable student. I wonder about the validity of the test-- why would the shrink mention this off the record, but say nothing of it on paper, if he thought if it was significant? Or, perhaps Math is a weakness made worse by ADD and not a learning disorder. I was never confident in ruling out that possibility and would be much less expensive to diagnose.