Laughter has always been a hidden language for me. I always took things literally. My first memory of this was when I was maybe about five years old, and had caught the flu. My mom had told me “I caught a bug from school.” I honestly thought I had an actual bug inside my body that was making me sick. I took it upon myself to find a flashlight and to “look for the bug down my throat.” This was just the beginning of taking things so literally.
As I grew older, whenever one of my friends told me a knock knock joke, I had to ask them to repeat it at least three times in order to understand it. When I went to college, there were a few stand up comedy nights that I went to with my friends. I sat there pretending to laugh along acting as if I understood the joke but in reality I was completely lost. I just didn’t understand what was so funny! Even to this day, at age 29 I struggle to understand the hidden language of humor. The struggle is real!! However, the ironic thing is I’ve been told I’m “hilarious” by my friends. We do manage to share many inside jokes. My parents on the other hand, still think I’m “too serious.”
Laughter is a strange mystical language for those of us with NVLD. It’s difficult for us to decode and to understand. In my 29 years of life, I finally just started to understand what sarcasm was. Even to this day, to make the situation less difficult or awkward I’ll still pretend to laugh at jokes I barely understand.
I’m a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland. I think it’s because Alice disappears into a world full of nonsense and tries to make sense of it all in her own way. I’m a lot like Alice. Similarly, NVLD is the same. Sometimes you just have to smile, laugh, nod and carry on. You may understand the joke right away, or it could take you 2 days later to have a eureka moment like I do and go “ah! I finally understand it!!” I sometimes wonder if those of us with NVLD have our own hidden language. We don’t quite understand the outside world at times, but each of us in our own mysterious ways can understand each other.
I’ll end this with one of my favourite Alice In Wonderland quotes, “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”
I’m a graduate of the Child & Youth Worker program from Cambrian College and I’m pursuing my degree in Disability Studies at Ryerson University along with a certificate in Aboriginal Knowledges & Experiences. I am a Project Social Ambassador for The NVLD Project.Share your own story