My Brain is Wired Differently and That’s Okay, by Melina

By January 19, 2023 NVLD Bloggers

It wasn’t until recently that I learned that I was never properly tested for ADHD. It always felt like everyone around me was performing except me. I was diagnosed with several psychiatric disorders but the one diagnosis that stood out to me the most was NVLD.

My name is Melina and it wasn’t until I was seventeen that I was diagnosed with NVLD. I grew up with an autistic sibling and as well as a family history of mental illness, so I’ve always been interested in neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders. NVLD was something I heard of before but never took much time looking into since it’s not in the official DSM-V. When I first took the opportunity to research more about NVLD after my diagnosis, it felt like a sense of relief, because for all my life, I felt incompetent, when in reality, all I’ve ever been was misunderstood.

Nonverbal learning disorder, or NVLD, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs visual-spatial, motor, and social skills. Fifty-five percent of communication is nonverbal which puts people with the disorder at a disadvantage. People with this disorder usually are seen as inept or awkward due to their misinterpretation of social cues, and because of this, they often suffer with anxiety and low self esteem. People who have this disorder often have strong verbal and written expression which compensates for their impairments, but they also have difficulty with their reading comprehension and comprehension of abstract concepts. Because NVLD is not officially recognized in the DSM-V, people with NVLD are usually misdiagnosed with ADHD or Autism.

With my personal experiences, I’ve always felt idiotic whenever reading maps because the visuals and directions always overwhelmed me. I’ve always been afraid to drive because of my inattentiveness and clumsiness. I’ve always felt weird to my peers because I can never relate to them in the same way as I do, and it’s hard for me to understand cues in social situations. All of these things contribute to the way I felt and still feel to this day but now I acknowledge it’s a part of how my brain’s wired and that’s okay. There’s so many things I experience that others do and I’m glad knowing I’m not alone in this.

Many people with NVLD have concrete or literal thinking. I think because of this, a lot of people fail to acknowledge that words may speak louder to us than actions. Coordination has always been a challenge for me. It took me a while as a child to distinguish between left and right (which is common in NVLD), and I still struggle having a general sense where everything in my town is. Because of this, I’m highly reliant on a GPS for directions.

Another thing I struggle with is socializing with other people in my age range. Especially when I was a little kid, I could never relate to everyone in the same way everyone else does. I excessively talk and have trouble understanding social cues and this heavily impairs my social skills. When people say sarcastic things to me, I might take them literally and this might make picking up on subtle communication much more difficult. There has been many instances where I never realized I made someone uncomfortable without them verbalizing it and it leaves me anxious wondering or not if I did something a matter. And because of my poor motor skills from my disorder, this makes being behind the wheel on the road much more scarier than it should be. And people with NVLD are known for being very verbose, but we struggle with complex reading comprehension. This sometimes makes me having to reread texts multiple times to understand what it means.

For the longest time, I’ve always felt awkward and delayed but getting a diagnosis has given the assurance I needed to know that I’m not just awkward and that it’s okay to have a disability. I do everything different than the average person and that’s okay. And despite of our challenges, we have attributes that put us in an advantage.

We have excellent rote memory. This makes me remembering things such as how to spell words or remembering number sequences easier than it is. In elementary school, we accelerate faster than most students. This is due to the fact that elementary school introduce basic concepts to children and these concepts are more about retaining than learning which makes obtaining information much easier. Lastly, people with NVLD are known for their vast vocabulary. We are very well spoken and we write well which makes us presentable when we have to be.

NVLD is a disorder that doesn’t mean that you’re incompetent. It simply means that you process and perceive information differently. I’m actively trying to come with terms that I’m disabled and that I’m performing at my own pace instead of others’. I have impairments that others don’t experience and that doesn’t make me any less capable than anyone else around me. I acknowledge now that my brain is wired differently and that’s okay.


My name is Melina and I happen to be a fraternal triplet. I am very interested in social work and psychology, especially abnormal psychology and would like to pursue studying either field.

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