One of the first deficits that someone with NVLD faces is in the area of social skills. It becomes noticeable as your child starts school and may be even more noticeable as each year passes. It isn’t unusual for a student with a NVLD to need help joining a group, to make friends, or just be part of the discussion.
In Elementary School it’s not unusual that you have a solid group of friends as the adults are often more of aware of your disability so they can connect you to a peer group. In Middle School due to switching classes and tracking you may start to have a change in peer groups, which is very common experience during the middle school years. High school was when things started to become complicated and was when I realized I needed to create new friends. While it’s true the “old friends” still were friendly to me, very few included me outside of school. In 10th grade though I made the big decision and became a three-season runner. Socially it was turning point for me. Throughout my running career incredible friendships were made. Although they weren’t from my school, they were my own age.
During the college years is when things got even better. Due to the nature of the disability many families choose to pick a disability friendly school that also has a strong campus life so you can make great strides academically and socially. For me, personally, arriving at Dean I was initially nervous, though confident that things would get better for me. During orientation I observed that the disability program was as important as the campuses honors program so I got the sense my disability didn’t matter here. Right away I had a solid group of friends to help me when I needed it. Here I was the Eileen Herzog who loved sports, theatre, being in cities, and enjoying a good time in general not just a neurologically impaired girl. To this day they are my best friends and they helped me realize my lack of friends in high school wasn’t me as a person it was my peers who weren’t ready to be inclusive yet.
While in the journey there will be ups and downs and the most important thing you can do is be true yourself so people can see your real personality and how much you have to offer. In the process don’t ever forget the vast majority of teenagers go through friendship changes. The first step is to improve your social skills. So join school activities so people who have your own interests can truly see how much you have to offer. Yes it may seem hard at first, but being part of activities are truly special. Overall the most important thing to remember is eventually things do click socially and in the end you will be very proud that you were able to overcome this challenge as everyone needs friendships in life.
I have been blessed with great friends!
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