Over the years I think about my journey overcoming an NVLD and what continues to come to mind is how my coaches were the ones who always supported me no matter how hard things became. Honestly when I was entering high school my social communication deficits became a real issue. Regretfully this triggered severe stubborn behaviors which caused me to talk back to some of my teachers. This resulted in some teachers not seeing the true me. My coaches though always understood me and helped me cope with my difficulties.
For example, my stubbornness affected me the most with my resource room teacher. This was incredibly hard as I knew from our assistant track coach she was an excellent teacher. She, in turn, had also heard wonderful things about me so there was a lot of confusion and tension in the beginning when things got off to a rough start. However my assistant coach spoke to her about what she believed was going on and went to great lengths talking about my excellent work ethic and “hidden strengths.” After this conversation things changed for the best and she began to see the same Eileen that my coaches did.
Another example of the support my coaches gave me is how they were always such incredible supporters of my visions and goals as they knew from coaching me I was more determined and focused than many with a disability. They knew you could never count Eileen out. For example my first big goal was taking Biology as a 9th grader rather than the lower level General Science. Unfortunately my support team was adamant I was going to fail and tried incredibly hard to get me to drop it. Thankfully I didn’t listen and I passed both the class and the regents. My resource room teacher was incredibly proud of me.
Outside of my academic needs my coaches helped others understand that while I did face social deficits connected to my NVLD I did have great friends. I learned social skills through my structured experiences and had great peer mentors through being a three season athlete. My resource room and counselor couldn’t see this and often tried to get me connected with more resource room students socially. While their heart was in the right place this was frustrating as I already had a great group of friends. Thankfully my coaches knew this and encouraged my resource room teacher to let me go my own way socially. My resource room teacher listened and for the both of us this made a big difference in our relationship.
What was particularly special to me is how my coaches supported my college dreams and listened to me talk about each visit in a way others couldn’t. Even though by this point my resource room and counselor knew quite well about my level of determination and were supportive of my goals and visions there were still some concerns. My coaches thankfully had tremendous confidence I was going to find the right place for me and they became my “go to” support in this area. My Cross-Country Coach was especially supportive as his family shared the same values as ours did. Again, like in the previous situations after I chose to attend Dean college my counselor and resource room teacher also shared the level of happiness for me that my coaches did and they too became very supportive.
Having my coaches always being there for me makes me a true believer of how full inclusion in sports needs to be more common. Coaches function as a mentor, counselor, and an educator while coaching you and your team. Personally I know this to be true as I learned such great skills from my coaches such as developing better social communication skills. In addition I learned that being the best isn’t just about being the best it also doing your best. Honestly having this level of understanding truly allows you to be a better student and to have great relationships with your teachers. As a result I feel it is so important to have more students with an NVLD or similar disabilities to join the sports that have an open policy as coaches will help them overcome their disabilities. By seeing you grow regularly they will believe in you in ways others can’t.
Overall I hope you understand teachers also have a tremendous impact on your success. Though because of our diverse deficits coaches through your own determination and work ethic have an easier time seeing your ability than the “Dis” therefore they can be stronger supporters to you. That being said I hope more will join sports as I greatly believe you will be so touched by the amount of confidence your coaches have in you.
Eileen is a Project Social Ambassador and blogger for The NVLD Project. She loves helping others understand they can achieve their goals and dreams through hard work and dedication.Share your own story