My Experience of Overcoming An NVLD, by Eileen

By July 1, 2023 Eileen, NVLD Bloggers

Growing up with an NVLD, one of the things that greatly bothered me was how clear it was that students weren’t being encouraged to challenge themselves a little by joining activities, and having new experiences. It truly took some time for my support team to understand my parents’ philosophies. However, as time went on it ended up being a great learning experience for us all. The truth is students with an NVLD and other disabilities loved challenging themselves more than some realized.

For example, my high school academic plans completely overwhelmed my support team initially. They didn’t think my plan was going to work as the other students with similar needs were on different paths. Through my parents’ work, they knew how to advocate for me so they effectively explained how my plan would work for me. Eventually, my team trusted us, and my resource room teacher quickly learned our plans were indeed right for me. In fact, she even recommended my plan to a few students as I showed her challenges can be great for some students.

Outside of academics telling my team I was planning to run Varsity Cross-Country and track brought more frustrations at first than it should have. They encouraged the “team manager” role for me and didn’t understand why I wouldn’t accept it. What they didn’t know at that time was my parents had already talked to my coaches about how full inclusion would work for high school sports. Both of my coaches loved how I was willing to challenge myself so they agreed that being a team manager wasn’t a good fit. Thankfully when I received awards they ended up loving that I was a three-season athlete.

However, what really brought the most confusion was when my parents told them their plans to have me attend a summer program and college away from home.  In a professional way, they ended up asking me why I don’t like the local options. The truth was my parents did like the local programs but believed in new experiences.  Personally, I am grateful my parents knew of the LD boarding schools that offered summer programs.  Eagle Hill in Massachusetts was an excellent summer placement and the amount of overall growth I made truly impressed my resource teacher. This positive experience led to my college list being all  New England-based colleges. My parents knew Dean and Curry College made the most sense for me whereas the vast majority of my fellow resource room students were commuting to SUNY Canton, our local college. Years later I think about this and think why limit our choices to just local placements? As it limited others’ chances for personal and social growth not just academics.

In my personal opinion, not encouraging NVLD and other LD students to challenge themselves and join activities is common. To me this is disappointing.  Doing things like taking the lowest level courses that don’t challenge students can cause some students to be less motivated. However, taking regular-level courses can motivate students. Also, for some, creating friendships is hard without structured social activities. So being involved, whether it is sports or another activity, should be encouraged more as constant togetherness leads to wonderful friendships. Yet while  all of this could seem worrisome I believe it leads to greater success

In terms of limiting summer and college options to just local placements, I strongly believe this greatly reduces the opportunities for personal, social, and academic growth. Since many students benefit in all ways of development by having a completely fresh start.  I was one of them and right away at Eagle Hill and Dean, I made many wonderful friends and mentors, while achieving great grades. When I was returning home from both places truly shocked my current and former teachers at first but they later learned it was from finding the right programs for me. Due to this, I believe these types of options need to be recommended more for students with an NVLD and other disabilities as the students achieve tremendous growth through a completely fresh start while having the proper support in place.

Overall I understand the IEP team’s hearts are in the right place by not encouraging all of these things however there are students who want them so they need to be encouraged to do them.  Due to the tremendous growth, I experienced doing all of these things, I greatly that students would achieve more and make a strong group of friendships as having these experiences would help the students be happier by being able to see their true potential and l their wonderful qualities too.


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.

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