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Reading comprehension


New Member
So background, I'm 22 and am in my second year of college. Reading has always been challenging for me because I not only am autistic, but I have ADHD as well so it's always been hard to maintain focus for long periods of time. In high school, I straight up never did my homework because I got tired of having to re-read things over and over again. Since going back to school, I've been a perfectionist about grades.

Anyways, this semester all of my classes require a ton of reading, which is fine. I can focus better than I used to, but sometimes certain things just don't make sense. I don't have any intellectual/cognitive impairments and I don't have anything like dyslexia, but sometimes I read things and no matter how hard I try, I just can't understand them. It's like I'm reading another language and it's infuriating.

Does anyone else struggle with this? It's ridiculous because I can read an interesting novel in one day, but when it comes to my science textbook this semester, I feel like I've suddenly developed a cognitive impairment.

Au Naturel

Au Naturel
It may be that you are interested in your novel while the science text is less interesting than watching paint dry. That's a typical ADHD reaction. I have it too.

Also, science texts tend to assume prior knowledge to understand what is being said. So if you floundered in high school, you simply don't have to tools to understand the college physics text.

I had that problem myself because I completely flubbed precalc in high school (psychological issues) which meant I never got to calculus. First-year college physics assumes you've mastered HS calculus but nobody told me that. So even though I got an A in PSSC physics in high school I couldn't follow what the college physics text or professor was talking about.


Active Member
Taking frequent breaks can help to retain the info., as can the following strategies:

Highlight relevant text - single words are good to focus on in order to recall the whole.

Read the text out loud - if you’re having difficulties with a specific concept, break off and find a video online about the topic in question.

Read whilst standing up or walking around.

Take notes or make spider-graph-type notes to aid later recall.

Visualisation can aid in understanding and recall - maybe visually illustrating the concepts will help you to both understand and recall them. Record your visualisations in diagram form on plain paper - labelling as, where and when required.

I know you do not have dyslexia - but perhaps reading through a yellow filter might help you to focus.

Do you have access to study groups at your place of learning? If so - that may be a good place to bring up aspects of class that you need to understand more about…

Should you not find strategies that help you to understand and retain information, please do make an appointment with the college councillor who may be able to help you - if not with practical solutions, then at least with the pressures that stress and anxiety will inevitably cause if you feel you are not attaining your learning objectives in an ideal manner. Also - please do talk to your tutor about this as further steps may be able to be taken to aid you further on your academic journey.

All the best to you, @grxnt

P.S. There may be members here at the forum who might be able to help you to understand things you're currently having difficulty with by discussing them with you. Maybe if there's a particular topic you require help on, you could create a post requesting assistance - I'm certain that anyone here who can help will be happy to help you on your way to further understanding! :)


Well-Known Member
Edit - this is just @Au Naturel 's post in another style. I skipped past his post after the first paragraph, which was careless, and not too smart :(
I'll leave my post here, but there's no new information in it, and the style isn't better, just a little different. .

"When it comes to my science textbook this semester, I feel like I've suddenly developed a cognitive impairment".

You may have gaps in the pre-req knowledge from earlier education.

Since you're studying a science class in College, you'll have memories of HS of people who are good in the "Liberal Space", don't have Dyscalculia but simply cannot do math from the point at which is becomes very abstract. The same can happen in any technical area.

Check to see if you have that in any topic.
It can be "hunted down" and resolved. Or if unresolved, it can be a permanent block to progress. It's worth the effort to check.
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Serenity waves, beachy vibes
V.I.P Member
I had the same issue with subjects l had zero interest in. So l wrote the subject down into a diagram and then l had words as the main topic which branched into other words and topics. So my memory of seeing the way l wrote it triggered my brain. Then when l re-read the subject matter, l was engaged with the subject. Still boring but more manageable and l felt l had a chance.

I noticed anytime l wrote the key concepts down then it finally clicked. Maybe reading outlook? That's another way to retain information.


Lioness of Spoons
V.I.P Member
Something to consider, alter the media format if at all possible. Audio books or text to speech if feasible. Listen to the text while taking a walk, doing chores, etc.

Motion often helps with ADHD information processing. (Diagnosed at age 4, drug resistant genotype). I've had a balance ball as a chair for a couple of decades.

Timers. (e.g. read for 10 minutes) and frequent breaks (e.g. 5 minutes online) can also help.

Work with your brain, or it will shut off out of frustration and self spite. There is no wrong way to learn, but traditional methods are often ineffective with NDers. It may take some trial and error, but just know it isn't user error.

Personally, I need my music going, a familiar nonfiction series on TV, I can actively ignore, and a pet in proximity (usually Rue Dog). The deliberate overload of stimuli triggers my filters, I focus on my music and the words in front of me.

Paradoxically, I cannot stand audio books, information and reception rates are far too slow and passive. I read much faster and I get a soundtrack to go along with the material...

Graphic formats can take me twice as long to process because I need to continuously check and recheck that I didn't any context or detail.
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Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Wow, what a bunch of great suggestions on this thread! I think you should try those things above like consider graphic or audio books or overstimulation, many breaks, and/or diagram if possible.

Maybe studying how to speed read but still retain information and/ or skimming could be useful, but I think the other suggestions should take priority over the speed reading or skimming.

Ronald Zeeman

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I'm a very avid reader, though I have noticed visual intake of information works much better, my youngest brother, recently discovered, he shares your disability. He is an Electrical Technologist joined the Canadian air force. We talk about this when we get together, he is ten years younger than me. I am like a second father to him.

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