Until recently I had never heard of Non-Verbal Learning Disability, and I have been a practicing speech-language pathologist since October of 2014. It presents very similarly to Aspergers but is different in several ways. For instance, I’m an auditory learner and struggle with fine/gross motor impairments, while many Aspies are visual learners and often do not present with as many fine and gross impairments.
Had I known as a child that I’d grow up to be a published author, it would’ve provided me with comfort and reassurance in the face of trying times. It wasn’t easy growing up with an undiagnosed learning disability. Despite endless efforts, in school I remained brilliant in some academic areas, like reading and spelling, and highly challenged in math and science, puzzling and frustrating my teachers and family. Read More
I was diagnosed with a Non-Verbal Learning Disability when I was in my junior year of high school. Learning disabilities weren’t even on anyone’s radar, not my parents, not my teachers… not mine for sure. I was diagnosed with a chromosome disorder called Turner Syndrome and part of the followup testing for that was NVLD testing since it’s very common with those who have Turner Syndrome.
Suddenly everything made sense when we got confirmation of the learning disability. It made sense why I struggled so much in geometry and chemistry. It made sense why I had so many awkward social interactions as a child. Why I always wanted to draw but could never master the hand eye coordination to do so no matter how much I practiced. Why I talked to myself out loud when performing a task. Why it felt like I was blind despite having vision. It was also why I became an easy target for bullying in school.
When I was diagnosed with nvld, I was living in a youth psychiatric ward due to suicidal ideology. Everything about life was confusing me, I felt drowned by life itself. For my first 18 yrs, I had taken in all aspects of the world with alternative comprehension. This was not comprehended.
Nvld research and awareness matters.
It matters because I never knew there were reasons that could explain the science of why I struggle. Life is different with nvld. Even before my diagnosis, I identified what I thought might be a difference, but without access to help, research, or a wide enough recognition of nvld’s existence, there was no hope of finding an answer.
It never made sense to me. Why was I in gifted classes in elementary school then as soon as middle school began, I struggled to maintain a C average? How could my elementary school teachers have been so wrong? At night, as I worked hard to complete my homework, I could not imagine some of my peers working so hard. I was always surprised to see them turning in their homework each day, seemingly unfazed by the amount of effort required. I surmised that I lacked work ethic and I’d better get myself accustomed to working harder. I asked my father who, despite performing terribly in school due to undiagnosed dyslexia, was a wildly successful entrepreneur -why school seemed harder for me than others. Without hesitation he assured me that was because, like him, I was not smart but how smart someone is – is not a measure of how well he/she will do in life. He said it was more important that I worry about being a good person and establishing strong work habits. And how to be resourceful. Like, getting people who were good in subjects to help me. And looking good. People care more about how good you look than whether you understand some random theory taught in school that has no relevance, he told me.
In 1967 when NVLD was first recognized I was just 2 years old. It’s no wonder it took until age 51 to be diagnosed with NVLD. Although my disability went unnamed for those 51 years I knew I was different. I knew that my math struggles, spelling errors, messy handwriting and how hard it was for me to stay on track and prioritize tasks were signs that something just wasn’t right.
Moms and Dads and fellow NVLDers. Guess what — none of those things stopped me from having amazing life experiences, a fulfilling career, and making loving connections with people.
I was diagnosed with NVLD in sixth grade. It was very hard to understand why I had this disability and what it even was. I had a rough time in high school with bullying, having separate testing locations, and always being pulled from class to be tested by a psychiatrist. I basically had no friends and I was failing terribly in school.
I remember being in elementary school and being taken out of the classroom or arriving early with my mom, who was a teacher at my school, to meet with the school psychologists. At the time I didn’t know that they were test, but they had me do a series of things like drawing, writing, reading, and etc. Now as a 23 year old I understand that they were testing my memory, attention to detail, learning and etc. I then remember my mother trying to explain to my 9 year old self that my brain was a little different, which is why I struggled with math so much.
“Julia’s visual-spatial difficulties cause her to be a hazard for herself and other students”
“Julia’s speech pattern makes her appear cognitively impaired”
“It appears Julia has a mild to moderate case of Nonverbal Learning Disorder”
These are a few [paraphrased] quotes from various IEPs and Neuropsychological reports I have from when I was growing up. I have read through these reports extensively trying to better understand me and find reasoning to why the way I am. The only conclusion I have ever drawn from these are that these are just labels and that my Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) does not define me or my life.
I was developing normally and hitting all my milestones at a normal pace until I had a febrile seizure at the age at two-and-a-half. Though it is just speculation at this point, my doctors believe that the seizure is either a cause or a catalyst to my NVLD and the messy-yet-awesome journey that I have endured my entire life.
My name is Abby and I’m sharing on what it’s been like being recently re-diagnosed with NVLD.
I was really little when I was diagnosed with learning disabilities so I wasn’t fully aware how they would impact my life until I went to school. I knew I was different from my friends; for a long time I couldn’t put my finger on quite what it was, but knowing I was different made me feel like I would never fit in. Read More
Just for a moment, imagine spending the first 18 years of your life unaware that Nonverbal Communication exists. While going to school, playing sports, and attending family events, you are unaware of all non-verbal communication. Imagine, you are eating dinner with your entire family on your birthday. Everything’s going smoothly, until you mention how funny this cat video you saw on the internet was. As you explain, you do not notice the disinterest in the faces of your friends and family.
Nobody has verbally stated that they did not think the video was funny. So you assume everyone is enjoying your video explanation, when really, they’re not. While communicating you are not making any eye contact, but instead you are looking around the room, because all of your focus is on explaining the cat video verbally. You pay little attention to your body language because you do not even realize it exists as a form of communication.
I have nonverbal learning disability. Well, not officially. Officially, I still have the diagnosis I was given more than 50 years ago: Minimal brain dysfunction. But NVLD is much more accurate. So, I’m disabled. But I’m also abled. Now, that word “abled” gets a little red line underneath to tell me that it’s not a word. Hey! Spell check! How can you lack something you can’t have? Read More
In early 2010 my mom was doing some research online and found out about a learning disability called nonverbal learning disability. Many of the traits that individuals with this disability had were similar to those that I possessed. For example, those with NLD are often very black and white and literal in thinking which is definitely me and have poor spatial sense which is me to a tee. They can be prone to anxiety and depression due to difficulties with the subtle nuances of social communication such as nonverbal communication, body language, and social cues.