I read through my vocational assessment next. It expressed something that I have long known and still deal with whenever a job or manager change needs to occur in my life: “It is highly unlikely that any job would be completely free of difficulties due to the functional severity of some of her nonverbal weaknesses.” Ouch. But also… yes. That fact, hands down, has been the most significant stressor of my life. I have had some challenges getting into a steady career path for the long term partly due to my lack of awareness of my NVLD until I was 5 years into the professional work world, and partly because I knew from the beginning I only wanted to work in mental health for a short period of time. My vocational assessment leaned towards disability disclosure. This is a very sensitive issue in the hidden disability community and in the employment support field. I have consistently wanted to disclose my disability, but I have been afraid to many times.
And there is a good reason. I have heard managers express discomfort in hiring someone who mentioned their learning disability in an interview, even when the disclosure was professionally expressed as a positive. The feedback I have gotten as a professional in hidden disability employment support has been a weariness of disclosure. There is usually encouragement to wait to see how the job goes before saying anything, but I have found that to be a very stressful path.
“Her strongest areas are her verbal communication skills, her ability to absorb verbal information, an ease with speaking in public, and an intelligent, creative, and inquisitive mind. She also has strengths and credentials, in writing, although her spelling and grammar are not up to the level of her creative writing and composition/style.”
Every time I revisit these documents I have a few more years of growth and life experiences and I take a bit more out of them and each time I find myself in a deeper level of self acceptance. Life with a significant split between verbal and nonverbal abilities possesses a lot of challenges in building a life filled with creativity and resiliency. It can be scary to be open about my significant weaknesses. I worry people will think I am less intelligent than they once did, less normal, less like them. Yet I think these concerns will become less common the more people there are out there who own their diagnoses. People who are in a place where they can say I’m here, I am intelligent, I am capable, and I struggle. It is ok to not be in that place now, or ever. It is a very personal choice to be open. I know I will be judged for it in a way I never would if I kept it to myself. I still feel if being open is right for you, it can benefit many other people who may not be able to be a face of NVLD (or any other diagnosis). I want to be proud of everything that I am. So I choose to be as proud of my “superior verbal IQ” as I am proud of my “severely impaired fine motor skills” because all of it has created the person today who I am proud to be.
I’m going to leave you with one last document I discovered while neatening up the house. During that time period, back in 2010, one of the employment support professionals I was working with interviewed a few of my former managers to put together some brief job reference write ups for me. Here is what they had to say:
“Anna covered events, meetings, and feature stories, and she was good. She was motivated, well organized, brought in new ideas for stories, and her writing was very well done. She was a really good employee. We were constantly getting letters and thanks from people she wrote about.”
“Anna was enthusiastic, dependable, reliable, and mature beyond her years. She was assigned to a project that was boring and tedious. Yet she finished on time, gave it her full attention and never lost focus. She always gave it her very best, and for a young person (on a tough job) she was very impressive. Would I hire her back? Absolutely!”
“Anna was filling in for us while an employee was out on a long leave, and she did a very good job. She was dependable and focused. She has a great personality, was very easy to get along with, acclimated easily and completed all tasks with no problems. Had she not moved back [to her home state] we would have tried to make a place for her here.”
“Anna was insightful, connected well with people and took direction well. She worked very hard and her stories were good.”
Anna has dreamed about making the world a better place for people who think differently her whole life. She has worked as a newspaper reporter and in supported employment within community mental health to achieve these goals. When not writing her blog, This NVLD Life, she enjoys going on adventures with her husband and their cat, Mia. Anna is a Project Social Ambassador for The NVLD Project.Share your own story