The Importance of Having an Advocate, by Eileen

By February 3, 2020 NVLD Bloggers

Growing up with a Non-Verbal Learning Disability leads to many challenges. One of the most common challenges is finding an advocate(s)/support team to help you because there is a major gap between your strengths and weaknesses along with additional social and communication challenges. Due to these deficits you may be underestimated or labeled as lazy and rude. Unfortunately due to this, the individual may send the message they just want to be on their own however the truth is in most cases they want and need an advocate.

Photo courtesy of Eileen

Despite the popular belief that you may find your strongest advocate from an area of strength I found mine from being a part of something that was a challenge, running Cross-Country. My coach, Jim Adams, always made sure I was 100% included as he felt having a disability should never be seen as negative. Quite frankly his goal was for others to see the true me. Beyond that, even in my darkest times he could make me smile and laugh.

By gaining Jim as an advocate he became my go to person in high school. While my teachers loved my work ethic and personal growth I exhibited he went the extra mile for me. For example, when I had my first anxiety attack at school he came right to the nurses to support me. Another example is when I was applying for college he truly was the one I could open up to about the decisions I was making and understand me while others didn’t. Raising a special needs son of his own it was special to him to watch me flourish and grow in a fully inclusive environment.

In adulthood this hasn’t changed at all and I am eternally grateful. He truly knows how much my success really means to me and that this success isn’t due to just having a strong family support. His big heart and wonderful sense of humor is a tremendous reason why he is a huge reason for my personal growth. Truthfully whenever I visit or receive an email from him I think I am beyond blessed to have Jim Adams as my advocate. Thanks to him being the adult who always advocated for me I now  see my true abilities much better.

While it’s true all your challenges will still take place even with an advocate, the support you receive will allow you to gain very valuable coping skills. I know so well once I got to know Jim Adams on a more personal level it made a tremendous difference for me. I no longer had to hide my feelings inside and I highly enjoyed having a teacher/coach who would kid around with me. You certainly don’t find your advocate overnight but once you do it does wonders for your self-worth.

Eileen

I aim to do my best in life, I love to laugh, and enjoy life which why is Jim Adams is the greatest advocate I could ever ask for in life as he is the same! His endless love and care along with wonderful laughs with me gives me the strength to keep beating the odds!

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