I’m ashamed of failing!

Nancie Payne, Ph.D.

Nancie Payne, Ph.D.


I am an adult and I struggle with what I feel is a learning disability. I have always struggled with learning math, even though I always liked it. I also have trouble comprehending and retaining things long term especially since I’ve gotten older. Even though I have had pretty decent jobs for someone with my educational background, I have had lots of failure as well. I also have four children, who all struggle with math and I want to be able to help them with their homework. I feel as of now that my math level is behind theirs. I want to attend the GED classes offered, but am too ashamed of failing or showing that a high school graduate has a 7th grade math level. Please help me so that I can help my kids. Thanks!


Thank you for sharing a little of your story. I can tell you have had your trials throughout your life and yet, think about how smart you are! Yes – smart… You are very much aware that you want to help your children so they do not encounter the same things you have – that to me is smart thinking.

Please try going to the GED classes – the reason is you will see that many in the program have a variety of difficulties and struggle with one thing or another just as you have described – some with reading and comprehension, some with writing and some with math. The purpose of adult education and GED programs is to assist you in ways you have probably not been assisted before… so at least call and see if you can make an appointment with the instructor before the class or after the class – that way you can share a little and see whether it’s the right place for you.

Another program that may be available is a family literacy program where you and your children can go together and learn Math as a family. Ask the adult education/GED instructor about whether there is a program in your area and whether you can get in.

Finally, there are volunteer literacy tutors who come to your home (or you meet in the library, etc.) and will work will you on the math area. You should be able to access some assistance for your children as well from their school-programs. Each school is supposed to have some tutorial and remedial assistance for children who are not performing as well as they should be.

I hope this information is helpful. Thank you for contacting LDA.

Nancie Payne, Ph.D. | President/CEO | Payne & Associates, Inc.

Dr. Payne is the President/CEO of Payne & Associates, Inc. She provides education, training and employment services and supports to adolescents and adults who have cognitive, non-apparent disabilities. She, also, provides professional development and consultation to businesses and organizations. Currently, Dr. Payne is serving as President of the Learning Disabilities Association of America, 2014-16.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Feel free to leave a comment below regarding this article. If you have a specific question for LDA, please contact us directly.


  1. Mary California says

    Hi, I am 27 years old woman from CA I have finally been able to admit to myself that I have a learning disability but I’m not sure how to get help. I been trying to finish school and my mind always plays games with me. I study so hard and work hard but I can’t take the test and quite often I can’t focus. All of this spills into my personal life to I just find it so difficult that I get workup… I feel as people see me and think of me as lazy or failure because I can’t finish a simple AA degree.

    • LDA of America says

      It’s great that you have decided to take action and find some answers instead of worrying about what uninformed people may think about you! Congratulations on starting the process of finding out how you learn best. Talk to your school’s Disability Support Services office and see if they can refer you to an affordable evaluation clinic so you can get the documentation you need to request teaching and testing accommodations in school. You may want to complete and LD screening first to see if the screening indicates a need for a full evaluation. There is information about LD screening and assessment at these two websites: https://ldaamerica.org/screening-adults-for-learning-disabilities/ and https://ldaamerica.org/adult-learning-disability-assessment-process/ You may also want to complete an AD/HD screening to see if your difficulty focusing stems from an undiagnosed attention deficit disorder. There is a free AD/HD screening for adults at https://add.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/adhd-questionnaire-ASRS111.pdf. Print the entire document (3 pages), complete the questions (Part A and Part B) on page 2, then read page 1 to learn how to score your answers. The scoring is explained on page 1 under “Instructions, Symptoms.” If your score on that screening tool indicates a high probability of an attention deficit disorder, you may want to talk to your family doctor about getting an assessment for AD/HD and possible treatment plans.

  2. How can we get Diagnosed with having learning disabilities as an adult? We live in Kansas City Ks?

  3. Christopher Korman says

    I have found as a graduate of the Threshold program at Lesley College and alumni of the prestigious Marianne Frostig school for educational therapy that failing only happens when you measure success l by unrealistic goals and expcectations. I say that based on being the only son with four other sisters.I’m the only one with a specific challenges who measure my value based on serving the needs of my wife and son on a daily basis.I believe emotional IQ tests in H.S sifts through a waste of alot of sleepless nights for parents and their siblings struggling to find their place in society. My father Harvey Korman my biggest advocate taught me the greatest life credo ever,You only fail in life when you don’ try. As someone who wasn’t suppose to survive brain damage at birth that is a very significant life changing life motto to live by but its what guided me to realizing there is unconditional love and family and deams that can be pursued and achieved in its own time.I know that to be true because I’m married to my best friend of 16 years and I had the child of my dreams.

    • Lori Lunsmann says

      Dear Christopher,
      I am new to this website, in fact about 15 minutes new! Your comments touched my heart as I am the grandmother of an extremely sweet 8 year old boy who has almost every LD along with severe ADHD (mainly compulsive type non hyperactive). I am helping to raise him along with his Dad, my 28 year old son as a single father. My grandson’s mother abandoned him at age 3, she just couldnt’ “handle” it.
      I am so happy to hear your words! You give me hope that my grandson will too one day find a soulmate and experience the joy of fatherhood! I am his “Mom” and his Grandmother and I cannot help but only want the very BEST for him. We are constantly on the search for all the right therapies and classes for him. We are now going through the ADHD medication journey to try to find the right ones for him. Reading your words gives me HOPE greater than anything I’ve experienced for a long time! In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever really talked to an adult with brain issues…only other children, my grandson’s peers. So…keep up the good work and I have to tell you…I am a long time fan of your dear late father’s! Many an evening my family would sit around our little TV in the living room absolutely cracking up at your Dad’s sense of humor…he was brilliant!
      With respect and admiration,
      Lori Lunsmann
      Seattle, WA

  4. hi my name is joseph i have problem reading writting spelling comprehend.also math. i was born in the year 1964 . my attendance was 100 % so they keep pushing me to the next grade every year .i was left back in the first grade then i was left back in the six grade . when i was left back now someone tried to help me .they sent me to the collage of staten island .were the student where the teacher . the first student stop teacher me .the second student last two weeks. after that they gave me a different student every week after that. then they just stop touring all together .the only problem, they only toruning me once a week. its took a hour to get there and hour to get home i was not getting home 6 pm. i remember eat and falling a sleep at the table. i also when to have a hear test they found that i have hight frequency lose in both of my ear.the doctor told me there nothing they can do for my lose of hearing .there has to be something or someone that can help me learn how to to read writing and spell and learn how to do math . i just want to feel like a person again. i aim at a lose seen i am on work com. and seen i go to church i know there over my shoulder. i just can take them being there . sorry i got off the track i have no one to talk to. by high school i did not understand any of the school work. I say the word they you hear many times before drop out i,am at a lose can any body help me . I am looking for help .

    • My daughter and her ex boyfriend are separated and have a joint custody agreement.
      She is a great advocate for her son who has behavior problems in school. Even though she has notified the district and the special education teacher that she would like to and should be part of the IEP meeting, the Special Education teacher doesn’t invite her to the meetings or will invite her the evening before the meeting. Our Grandson’s father is the one who always gets invited but doesn’t always attend.
      Does the law in Wisconsin mandate that both parents with a Joint Custody agreement are to be sent notice of the IEP meeting at least 10 days before the IEP meeting?
      Thank you

  5. Kim Holloway says


    I’m so happy I found this website. I’m an adult struggling with a learning disability. I don’t have a college degree and I give up when something is too challenging to me. I’m very intimidated around smart people and I lack social skills. I love to read but I find that if there is a word that I can’t pronounce or don’t understand I stop reading it. I’m in the administrative support field and I’ve had some amazing jobs. I biggest failure in my role is taking meeting note/minutes. This is an essential piece to my job and I fail at it a lot. I currently just started and new job but I’m having a hard time understanding the functions of the firm and keeping up with my team. I can’t remember and it’s hard for me to understand a lot of what’s going on around me. On the other hand, I’m very creative and I’m really good at the things I know how to do like travel, I love travel I’m really good at it and creating forms and things to keep me organized. I graduated from high school and really do want to get a degree but each time I enroll in online classes and it get hard, I give up. I’m a really bad writing to. I really want to be smart and comprehend. I’m a really bad speller as well. Sometime, it’s like my brain is moving faster than I’m writing or listening. Ex: as I’m typing to you I’m typing, I help you…. But I meant I hope you…. Also, I find myself in a conversation and I attempt to respond but then forget what I was going to say…. And sometimes, to get my point out, I’ll talk over the person. This message is all over the place and that’s pretty much how I think. I hope you can help. I aplogize in advance for the typos. Continue to be great in all you do.

  6. Hello there,
    I been struggling academically every since I can remember. I know I have a different way of learning, but it gets frustrating when I cannot tackle an math/arithmetic reasoning problems nor comprehend reading unless it is straight forward. I tried to make a career changes for the past 10+ years, but unsuccessful due to written test that disqualifies me including the ASVAB test. This often gets very frustrating as well as depressing. I often doubt myself if I can pass any test that are part of the hiring process that qualifies for any job or job positions. I been told that I have LD including ADD, but all of the documents that was done are not updated or disposed, and the people who’d assessed me have either moved, retired or died. I now realize how cost efficient to get an assessment, but I do not have money that is required, nor I don’t think my health benefits from my job covers it. I am also afraid that this issue will disqualified me to enlist in the military, and if mentioned, they will want every documentation of it or automatic disqualification. How can I go about to tackle this problem discretely and improve it? I need to have a master key to unlock the doors of opportunities and success. I want to be part of a success story and not a statistic, and while I am at the appropriate age, I know it is not too late…

    • Louise Bedrossian says


      Each state has a Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) that is funded jointly by federal and state funds. (Do an internet search to find the one in your state, probably listed under the state government.) They are in the business of helping people with disabilities get work and their services are free. If someone suspects they have a disability, this process starts with testing and evaluation by the agency to determine if they have a disability and what that person’s strengths and weaknesses are. And you should ask for copies of the results any evaluations they may give you.

      The next step is to determine your skills and the help available, which may include training to get the work skills you need. This might also include training in technology that will assist with reading, spelling and other related academic performance. It may include a referral for medication that can help with ADHD.

      If joining the military is your goal, DRS may be able to assist with that too. Keep in mind that in the past, the military has had some concerns with people who actually take medication for ADHD, probably because it is usually a type that is considered a “controlled substance,” and is more carefully monitored because it can be abused. So having ADHD is not the real issue. Taking the medication at the time of enlistment, and sometimes having ever taken ADHD medication, is the issue.

      I wish you luck as you go forward with your career. I have known many people with ADHD who have bee exceptionally successful in the military just because it provides the structure that is so helpful to those with ADHD. There are clear guidelines for making decisions, your activities are structured and there are many supports and resources. I hope that you will find some answers to your career search and find your direction.

  7. monique washington says

    hello I have a 7 year old that has been diagnosed with adhd. I have always known that he had it even when he was very small. at the time I didn’t know how to get him the help that he needed that was when he was ages 3-5. now hes in school and he struggles so much trying to understand. I don’t know how to help him. he can’t lean the way I know how to teach him. its really starting to be over whelming. I know there are some programs and services that can help him with leaning in school and also give me the information and also teach me what i need to know so that I can help him at home. I don’t know where to begin to get the information that we both need. He’s school isn’t much help. hes on medication its help him calm down but he still struggles with the leaning part. he need to be tested also to really know where he at with leaning

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.