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Difficulty with Abstract Concepts and "Nothing Sticks" - learning challenged 15 y.o.


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Does anyone have experience with a child who tries and tries, does everything asked of her, but has tremendous difficulty with abstract concepts and with learning almost anything -- even in her areas of interest/hobbies? For example, she may study a list of terms or a math problem, and be able to remember/use that information at the time. The next day, often it is like "starting over" as most of what she learns does not "stick." She can memorize things through repetition.


She has a measurably slow cognitive processing speed, but nothing else stood out when we had her cognitive abilities tested. However, after years of working with her - I know that she just doesn't "get" abstract concepts. She has a very mechanical style of learning. For example, she can memorize a list of prepositions, but cannot grasp how to use them or identify them and how they work in a sentence. Another example: She can make a graph, but I do not think she really understands what it means -- even something simple like growth over time.


What other kinds of testing might we consider?


She is very dutiful, and most of the time she pretends to understand. But in candid moments she will say that she feels stupid all the time. I wonder what kind of curriculum or school would be most gratifying and beneficial to her? She homeschooled through 8th grade and is now in a public high school with a 504 Plan.


Thanks in advance for any ideas you might have.


Sandy in CO

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  • 1 year later...

Not sure if you're even still on this forum, as I just found it today. We have an adopted daughter with fetal alcohol and drug exposure,  with similar issues to your daughter. She has other problems, as well, though your post sounded like you were describing our girl. Not just FASD cause these issues. Any frontal lobe injuries can cause these sorts of brain damage. They impact the amygdala as well. 

We find ourselves repeating and repeating and repeating ourselves a lot! There is also a lack of understanding what she has memorized. She struggles with common sense. 

If you're still here, I'd love to talk. I could say so much more, but will hold off until I know we have connected.

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