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Failing Tests in School: Failure or Genius?

anxiety, chdlegacy, CHD cognitive issues, neuropsychology, learning disability, Stephanie Romer, HLHS, congenital heart defect,  congenital heart disease, jimmy kimmel, ed helms, advocate, chd warrior

“Sometimes, the most brilliant and intelligent students do not shine in standardized test because they do not have standardized minds.”


I came across this on Facebook today and it made me so happy because I know exactly how this girl feels, because it used to be me. I have always thought I was one of the smartest people I know in regards to anything else outside of a standard curriculum that is forced down your throat in school.

Things that weren’t applicable to life, I knew at an extremely young age that they weren’t teaching the information needed to succeed in life.

I had a panic attack every test – although those terms didn’t exist when I was in school .. “panic /anxiety attack” It was just me freaking out, sweating, getting dizzy, not being able to breathe and quickly filling in any circle or answer just to get through the next 30 minutes. I never cared if I passed a test because I knew I would Ace everything else – homework, projects, extra credit, participation – and that I did. I figured out this system when I was in fourth grade,10 years old. I figured out that as long as I get ALL A’s & B’s on ALL assignments, projects, participation and did extra credit – I would never have to pass a test again. And so I

did exactly that for the remainder of my school years.

Even in college it worked. I rarely got below a C in a class, with failing all tests. I thought I was a genius. I loved my system I had. It helped me not want to commit suicide every single time there was a test. Maybe that sounds harsh – but that’s how I felt inside. I never understood why it was so hard for me to remember things I knew I knew. But in the end, all that mattered to me every single day was waking up and being alive and making it through another day. I didn’t care about X + Y = abcdefg and why which war did what when and why. I was fighting my own wars at home. I didn’t have the mental capacity to care or fit anything outside of my extremely stressful home life into my child sized brain.

Granted I didn’t fail EVERY SINGLE TEST for my whole life –I mean, I did know some answers, but 90% of my tests throughout my life I definitely got a high F or a D. And hey whaddya know – I’m still here, going strong and very happy!

There’s nothing standard about CHD.

We do not have standardized minds, and many of us test


I struggled with tests (and reading comprehension) my whole life from kindergarten through college. It was extremely frustrating because of how smart I knew I was. Little did I know, as I grew into my late twenties and my mission to research CHD continued, I began to learn many of us have learning disabilities, memory processing issues and other mental delays due to many hours on a heart – lung machine and many years on and off of anesthesia which cause long term neurological effects, although they are so slight they may be unrecognizable to many, we feel them and struggle to understand why certain things are so hard for us to just “get.” (Feel free to see my YouTube

video below about Learning Disabilities for more information)

However, at least now we are getting answers, and with answers and a stronger community come help and problem solving. It’s so important for us to keep sharing our stories with each other – this is how we are building history and creating a better future.

More research creates strong self-esteem and an overall understanding of WHY we are who we are.

Finally around 28 years old, I stopped feeling “stupid” and began to focus on the fact that there is an actual physical difference in my brain compared to other “normal” children

and adults. Cheers to moving forward in our research with CHD! It just keeps getting better and better!!

Please see my video about CHD & Learning Disabilities to hear more about my experience as well as another CHDer’s!

CHD, anxiety, chdlegacy, cognitive issues, neuropsychology, learning disability, Stephanie Romer, HLHS, congenital heart defect,  congenital heart disease, jimmy kimmel, ed helms, advocate, chd warrior

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