NLD and Music, by Jennifer

By June 9, 2023 July 5th, 2023 NVLD Bloggers

As a NVLDer I love music because it helps me to cope with difficult past experiences in my life, especially from my childhood and adulthood. I’m not sure if this is true for you as well if you have NLD, ADHD, Asperger’s, ASD, or a different neurodiverse diagnosis. You may also experience as a neurotypical.

Music definitely plays into our auditory memory and helps us with memorizing lyrics and pieces from the songs. The first article I’ll use today is titled “Guitar and NVLD, by Michaela” is by Michela and is from The NVLD Project.

She is a “lover of nature, poetry, and iced coffee (in my humble opinion, the only coffee truly worth drinking). I’m naturally extroverted, and I think of myself as a people person! I’m studying to become a social worker because I want to be able to help individuals with learning disabilities just like me! I am a Project Social Ambassador for The NVLD Project.”

“Summer 2004: I was ten years old when I picked up a guitar for the first time. I named her Gloria. I started taking lessons months later, in fifth grade. I wasn’t diagnosed with NVLD until I was 14. But back then, it was known that I had some struggles with my fine motor skills. After practicing guitar though, transitioning between chords soon became effortless.

Sixth grade came around. I was beginning to struggle more in school because of my undiagnosed NVLD. I was failing tests, even in subjects I was good at in the past. Without an explanation to my parents, I stopped taking guitar lessons. I picked up Gloria every so often to play, but it didn’t feel the same. Until recently, I never really addressed why I quit. Looking back, I stopped taking lessons because I was losing confidence in my overall abilities, in part because of my struggles in school.I picked up guitar again last year (in 2018) after a hiatus. I still remember almost everything I learned years ago. Because of my visual-spatial processing issues, it can be hard for me to learn to read music on my own. But, I have increased confidence in my abilities now. I’ve posted some guitar videos to social media and played at several open mic nights at coffee shops (which has taken some courage to do, I’ll admit). I’m so grateful for everyone who has supported me. I’m 24 now. I graduated with my Master’s Degree in Social Work very soon. I wanted to be a social worker because I want to work with individuals with learning disabilities, and part of my job is to give advice. As cliche, as it might sound, my advice to everyone is to never give up on doing what you love. As I wrote in my poem about having a learning disability, “Realizing,” “it’s hidden talents and strengths.”

To my fellow NVLDers and everyone with any kind of learning disability: uncover those hidden talents and strengths, like a guitar.
Water them and they’ll grow.”

I did try to learn how to play the guitar in middle school but I never really stuck with it. I like singing better than guitar. It’s fun and I don’t care if I’m good at it or not because I usually do it in the shower, while I’m working or cleaning so I’m by myself most of the time and the only one who can hear me sing. I think Michaela has a good point about watering your hidden talents and letting them grow because you may never know what you’re capable of unless you try and nourish them.

The second article I will read is titled “I have ADHD and Non-verbal Learning disorder. What strategies can I use to improve my guitar playing?” by Zerimas9 years ago and Is from Reddit

“Last year at the ripe old age of 23 I was diagnosed with ADHD (primarily inattentive type), and non-verbal learning disorder. I am pretty sure that these conditions are the cause of most of my guitar difficulties. For those of you unfamiliar with NLD (non-verbal learning disorder), it essentially means that my verbal intelligence greatly outstrips my spatial/procedural intelligence; my verbal intelligence is way above average, while my procedural intelligence is barely average. As a result, I pretty much have to conceptualize everything verbally. From a technical standpoint, I am not a terrible guitar player. However, I cannot learn a song to save my life. Even learning simple stuff (e.g. some riffs from a Gwar tune) is an extremely difficult undertaking. I cannot look at a piece of music and interpret the rhythm at all. Even with Guitar Pro playing it back, it still takes me a really long time to learn simple riffs. I can play in time with a metronome, but even simple variations in rhythm baffle me whenever I try to learn something. I am pretty sure that dotted notes may be some kind of witchcraft, and swing rhythms are theory unproven by the scientific community. Guitar Pro makes it almost possible for me to almost learn something, but in order to play something more complicated than 16th note palm-muted chugs I have to break out the metronome and work it out literally one beat at a time. Maybe my Google-fu is weak, but scouring the internet hasn’t yielded much useful information. I really hope someone on here can help. TL;DR: I am a technically competent guitar player. I can’t learn a song to save my life. I am pretty sure it may be due to the fact that non-verbal learning disorder learning music is really hard.”

This is a good article because Zerimas9 is asking for advice from fellow neurodivergent on how to improve because they’re not sure how to. They do get quite a few responses. One said to be more patient, try learning other instruments if a guitar is too hard, and practice daily for an hour. Another one suggested using their verbal skills to help them learn songs and rhythm. And other one suggested using a DVD that had tips on learning to play the guitar.

These are all good suggestions because they are aiming at the talents of NLD and ADHD: verbal ability, audio memory, and focusing on one thing at a time.

I use music when I exercise and work to help me focus on the task I’m doing better. It helps me keep a constant pace when I’m running and jump roping. It also helps me when I’m creating podcast scripts because sometimes I use the songs to help me write them or as part of them.

I hope that this episode helped with learning more about your music or hidden abilities and with improving them. Water them and nourish them with consistent practice and who knows what you can achieve when you set your mind to it. You might be able to run a half marathon in under two hours, memorize songs lyrics or lines from movies really well or maybe learn how to play a musical instrument.


About You:
I am 27 years old and have NLD and chronic migraines but I don’t let either of those stop me from having a full life. I have a full-time job, five podcasts, and a dog, Truffles. One of my podcasts is “Living With An Invisible Learning Challenge,” you can read more about it on I’m also one of The NVLD Project’s Social Ambassadors. Here’s the link to my page: