“Cat. Six. Seven. Mouse. Dog. Eight. Ten. Fox.” She reads off the card.
“Cat. Six. Seven. Mouse. Dog. Eight. Ten. Fox.” I respond.
“Good job. Now let’s switch gears. This test will be more challenging.”
I feel confident as she flips to the next card on the deck.
“Lily loves to play soccer. She is the fastest girl on her team. In the tournament game, she scored three goals. This feat is known as a hat trick in sports. Her incredible effort advanced the team to the championship. Lilly was named MVP.”
The regions in my brain fire off like pistons, quickly formulating a response.
“Lily plays soccer. She scored three goals in the tournament game. She was named MVP, and her team advanced to the championship.” I answer.
“Nice job. You got the main points. This one is a bit harder.”
“Alright let’s hear it,” I said.
“Mark is a young man who one day takes off on a cross-country road trip from New York. He brings his dog Bobo and cat Whiskers. Along the way in Kansas, Mark stops for a drink at a bar called Smokey Lungs and sees his old lover Michelle standing at the pool table inside. After talking for a few hours, Michelle decides to join Mark on his trip to California. They leave the bar and head off in his 64′ Buick. Shortly after they leave, Mark is pulled over for swerving lanes. As the police officer comes to his window, Mark realizes he had one too many drinks. He runs out of the car and into the woods abandoning Michelle. The officer tackles Mark and arrests him. Mark is sent to jail, while Michelle hitchhikes her way back to the Smokey Lungs bar. They never see each other again.”
“Mark went on a road trip. He stopped in Kansas at a bar called Smokey Lungs. Mark took his dog Bobo and cat Whiskers with him. I think that’s right. What was the name of the women he met?” I asked.
“I can’t tell you anything.”
“Right. Umm, he gets arrested; and something about running into the woods drunk. That’s all I remember.”
The speech therapist I’m sat across from marks her scorecard for the final tally. I cringe in defeat. All the tests prior I nailed, but recalling stories was my Achilles heel. I couldn’t remember all the details.
“Well Matt, from these tests it looks like you have AUD, Auditory Processing Disorder.”
This diagnosis didn’t come as a surprise.
In the past, I had difficulty with certain types of employment. Working as a server put my disability on full display; every day felt like survival.
Keeping track of orders was a nightmare. I ended up leaving many guests without dinners entirely. My boss couldn’t understand why the confident and capable person he hired was pissing off customers.
I would’ve never worked in that kind of environment knowing the difficulties I had processing information.
My disability also interfered in relationships. The most frustrating aspect was that I always felt at fault for being forgetful.
“You don’t listen. Do I have to repeat everything for you?”
I did care. I wanted to remember. I was present, but couldn’t keep the information in my brain. Remembering every long conversation was like pouring water into a bottomless cup.
All of these memories had been pulling on me for years.
I left the speech therapists office that day after being diagnosed feeling relieved. A massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
Everything made sense for once.
I didn’t choose to have a learning disability. Though now I have the resources to manage. I have the rest of my life ahead, and all possibilities are open.
That’s pretty awesome.