An Open Letter to Those Questioning the Need of Personal Connections, by Eileen

By July 21, 2021 NVLD Bloggers

Growing up, I would occasionally become confused about why it was so important to my parents for me to be so connected socially with others as those with similar challenges seemed okay just doing the journey by themselves. Now in adulthood, I understand it completely as having significant personal connections makes the journey easier and is a major self-esteem booster.

To my Cross-Country Coach:

When my family and I think about the decisions we made during my high school years, we are always so complimentary of you. We know so well you were a tremendous reason that I was able to be “connected” despite my NVLD. Given my gross motor skills deficits, staying with track would have never been possible without also running cross-country nor would I have made the great connections I ended up making with so many of my teammates and fellow competitors. Right away, I knew you were the best coach for me as you had that extra amount of empathy given your own life experiences. We could never thank you enough. I just hope today’s youth with an NVLD or similar condition find an adult as awesome and caring as you were. Connections like ours don’t just happen, they are formed by having incredible role models like you. Now every  time we get together I think how lucky I am that you are still an incredible role model to me and have become an incredible friend.

 

To My Track Coach:

When I first joined the indoor and outdoor track teams, the farthest I could run was the 200 meter race therefore there wasn’t much of a reason for my teammates to support me since, in these sports, being able to do multiple events is strongly desired. The challenges of an NVLD are often hidden disabilities and those around me didn’t understand that, despite my often slow times, I was doing my best. So thank you for letting me show you that I could now do every race except for hurdles. Yes, I was very slow but I could give you 1-2 points by finishing which we both know can make all the difference when trying to win. More importantly my participation in track made me a three season athlete which allowed me to have a purpose every school day and allowed me to make personal connections with many other runners. I now understand why my parents encouraged me to be a three season runner as it led to me to make some great lifelong friendships with both coaches and teammates.

 

To My Activity Advisors:

When I first started after school activities, I was nervous as most of those who were already involved in them were stronger students than I was. Fortunately, I found a place to fit in right away when I joined Key Club and realized the top students made up only a small percentage of the group. I would have never felt comfortable joining if I couldn’t connect with a peer group. I was with the upperclassmen in my first year which, looking back, was the right choice as I gained more social skills and learned how to become a leader. My only regret is that I didn’t do a better job getting more students like myself to join a club during my junior year.

 

To those with an NVLD:

I hope you understand that at the beginning of a school year it is so important to become connected with a few things like athletics or extracurriculars. Please know I understand some activities would be a reach. For example, soccer is tough due to all the spatial and gross motor skills and an activity like student government where you need to be elected is also not easy. However, I know through experiences such as sports and service organizations, everyone who wants to be involved is welcomed. I understand why your resource room teachers and counselors may discourage you from participating in sports. Your challenges may seem like too much. Though, in a sport like running, even the slowest runners are often valued the same as the fastest and those around you will reach out and give you a great deal of support. 

So try a few activities this year and with a tremendous amount of confidence I will say it will make your journey so much easier.

Eileen

I love being connected and will always love my coaches as they made it happen.

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