Jeff, 30's, Connecticut, USA - I'm Here to Outwit a Learning Disability


My name is Jeff and I have a learning disability which I am beyond determined to overcome.

I came across information on memory as a discipline by a somewhat circuitous route. Mainly I’d been doing a lot of independent research because there aren’t a lot of resources for “twice exceptional” people (adults or children) who are paradoxically high IQ and learning disability sufferers at the exact same time. Needless to say, this has been a very frustrating road for me. Eventually, I picked up a copy of Moon Walking with Einstein followed by a few books by Dominic O’Brien and I was hooked. I’m almost done with the first one, I’ll start the other two shortly.

My learning disability (dyslexia and dyscalcula) manifests itself as a difficulty to remember basic math facts. Not all of them, just enough of them to be a real problem. I’m currently throwing every memory technique I can find at the problem to see what works. Obviously, my spelling isn’t great either, but I’m mainly concerned about my math at this point.

Aside from Moon Walking with Einstein I’ve been reading Mathematics for Dyslexics and Dyscalculics by Chinn and Ashcroft. It has been an invaluable resource. Anyone else facing a similar problem should start here.

Where I Could Use Some Advice

I could use advice from anyone here who has used advanced memory techniques to overcome a learning disability even if it is dissimilar to my own. Beyond that, wise words about any math or tabular data memorization techniques are most welcome.

What I’m Trying Now

Deep breathing while doing math. That is, reciting a portion of a multiplication table while doing deep breathing exercises. This is done literally in the hope that more oxygen to the brain will help facts “stick” better.

Memory palaces. I’m finding these unexpectedly difficult. I think it’s mostly a training issue. I have been working on memory palace techniques for only about two weeks. My “memory palaces” tend to behave like Linked Lists in my brain instead of geospacial representations holding data.

Mnemonics for integers. I’m trying to come up with visual mnemonics for numbers 0–99. I’m placing these inside my memory palace, associating them with both the underlying computation and their value. So, a pitcher of beer [21] sits on a pedestal that is shaped like 3x7.

I look forward to learning from everyone here and forming some new friendships. Feedback and questions are most welcome.


Wow, thanks for sharing, Jeff. That is an interesting idea about deep breathing while doing math, I’ll have to try that. Deep breathing in general is great for brain health. Look up “Wim Hof technique” if you don’t already know about him), and also I recommend getting into yoga. I suffered a severe traumatic brain injury when I was 26 (I’m 31 now), and, like you, I initially had some extreme difficulties with certain mental activities, math among them, but most importantly my short-term memory was pretty much zero. Moonwalking With Einstein was also an introductory eye-opener for me, and I’ve been on a memory improvement journey for pretty much the last 5 years, and I suspect it will last the rest of my life. In the last couple years, after discovering this forum and spending countless hours reading, I’ve also set out to create a 00-99 system and associations for playing cards, although I’m still nowhere near being able to actually memorize a deck yet. But this forum is a great place for sharing and discussing these things. I have been having difficulty with memory palaces in general though, I think because I need to start trying to actually draw them out instead of just “building” them in my mind, perhaps.


Wow, thanks for sharing, Jeff. That is an interesting idea about deep breathing while doing math, I’ll have to try that.

Thanks for the tip. Yeah, it helped my focus in the moment but didn’t seem to result in better recall by the 3 day mark. Three days seems to be my “brick wall” for certain kinds of information, forming a perfect Ebbinghaus forgetting-curve.

Look up “Wim Hof technique” if you don’t already know about him), and also I recommend getting into yoga.

This guy?

You’re right, building memory palaces is a lot harder than one would expect. Try using something very familiar to you. Your house, your childhood home, etc. If that gives you issues, pick up a fantasy dungeon map and try to visualize yourself there. That’s probably what I’m going to end up doing next to get myself used to creating palaces of places that don’t really exist. I’m toying with the idea of using White Plume Mountain as a memory palace.

Thanks for the encouragement and well-wishes.