Hello, so today we are going to be talking about NLD and sensory issues. Do you have any sensory reactions to sounds, sights, textures, tastes, or smells? I know I do! We’ll be discussing those topics today.
My sensory issues are with sounds, light, and taste. I have a big gag reflex so it’s hard for me to swallow pills. I also have chronic migraines so I don’t like being in a bright room. I don’t like the sound of things that are like nails on a chalkboard, which is weird because I was homeschooled so I never heard that exact noise. But I don’t like it when a knife scraps on a plate, metal rakes on bricks, or metal chairs on concrete. It hurts my ears. And with the– going back to the swallowing pills– I worked on that challenge because I found that if I swallow pills with milk it’s easier than swallowing them with water, which, I guess is because I feel like I can taste the pill with the water but I don’t taste it with the milk.
Um, and I think I have more of an acute sense of hearing because of NLD. Because I can hear things really well and memorize audio extremely well also. Like song lyrics, quotes, and names.
Um, I don’t like annoying beep sounds also because it bugs me a lot and draws my attention away from what I’m trying to accomplish at that moment. I usually will try to find out what is beeping and stop it so I can try to concentrate more, or I’ll turn my music up more.
I remember one time actually, I was using a heater in my office at work and I kept hearing a beeping noise I didn’t know it was my heater at the time and my dad, um, was trying to help me find the beeping noise because he knows that usually disrupts me. And, uh, he found out it was my heater and for some reason, I didn’t believe him because I think I thought it was further away and I thought it was coming from somewhere else, but it actually was the heater, so, um, I don’t use that heater anymore because I don’t like the beeping noise distracting me while I’m trying to work. [drinks] Excuse me.
Here’s a quote from “Nonverbal Learning Disabilities and Sensory Processing Disorders” by Mary Dobbins, uh, who has an MD, Theodore Sunder, who has an MD as well, Stephen Soltys, I think I said his name correctly, I’m not sure, who has also an MD. Um, quote, “Children with NVLD have an impaired ability to read facial, gestural, and prosodic cues in language, as well as having parallel deficits in expression, with reduced gestures, flat facial affect, and monotonous prosody. These children often misread social cues and misinterpret social situations” End quote, might have mispronounced some of those words. Sorry about that.
I do also have visual sensory issues with depth perception and estimating distances. This is why I don’t like driving. I get nervous when I drive but I do try to remember how much I have improved with my driving. And something that also affects my driving that I think is related to NLD cause it– they started when I was diagnosed with NLD– my chronic migraines which are kinda going up and down, but, um, I’ve had them for seven years and I was diagnosed with NLD seven years ago, so, I think that they are related to each other, um, or connected to each other at least. But, sometimes when I have a bad migraine I can’t drive and if I’m nauseous and have one at the same time, I don’t want to drive because I feel like I’m gonna throw up, which makes sense.
Um, and back to the social piece. I do have issues with interpreting facial expressions too because it’s hard for me to know what face matches with what emotion. But I’m getting better at this and being able to interpret them and knowing how to tell what facial expression goes with what emotion. But I’m not sure um, what t– what it would look like on my face. Like, I know sometimes my mom will tell me, um, or will ask me, why I “have that face” I’m like– I–I don’t try to be snappy back to her but maybe it sounds that way when I say, “what face?” [laughs] I mean like “I don’t know what my face looks like. I know what it may feel like but I don’t know what it looks like.” Um, and even if I looked in the mirror with that expression on I don’t think I would know what that would mean and I probably would try to change it to something more– either different or pleasant if it wasn’t a pleasant one already. Um, and that wouldn’t help me with identifying the one that I have on my face beforehand. So that’s an issue that people with NVLD have. At least it’s true for me, I don’t know if it is true for others. Um, cause I know there’s a saying “When you meet with one – meet one person with NVLD, you’ve met one person with NVLD” which is true because there are so many symptoms that you can have with NVLD and you can have it to varying degrees. Um, some of mine are mild. Some of mine are more severe than others, but all of them are not as severe as they could be. Um, and I’m thankful for that. Some people with NVLD can’t drive at all. I can. Which, I’m thankful for. Um, I mention that ‘cause I mentioned driving earlier. And, some people, um, with NVLD have a harder time with reading facial expressions and I think that might be because they have– maybe they haven’t worked on reading them as much as I have. Um, or maybe they have more than just NLD and they have another learning challenge and that makes it ha– extra hard for them to read them. Like, um autism or ADHD might also make it difficult.
So, here’s another article from the NVLD Project titled “Finding the Healing Touch: How Adults with NVLD Can Effectively Articulate their Sensory Needs to Their Partners,” by Benjamin Meyer, who has a licensed clinical– who is a licensed clinical social worker. He is quoted as “a bilingual psychotherapist and executive functioning coach who specializes in working with young adults with NVLD, and was inspired by” his “personal experience to help those” he works with “to transition to the professional and social demands of adult life.” He believes “that each person is unique, and that we are more than just our labels and diagnosis” He is also a Project Social Ambassador for The NVLD Project” end quote.
And a quote from the article: “Adults with NVLD and sensory sensitivity face unique challenges in enjoying the physical aspects of a relationship, beginning during the initial dating stage and continuing through moments of physical intimacy. By communicating their needs and desires, individuals with sensory sensitivity can engage in romantic and erotic touch with their partners, deepening their emotional connection as well. In fact, a supportive relationship can be an essential tool for helping somebody with sensory sensitivity to navigate daily life, as well as provide their person’s partner with the opportunity to build a sensual, trusting, and caring relationship with someone who will appreciate his or her efforts. With the right steps, people with NVLD and sensory sensitivity can have the relationships they want and deserve,” end quote.
I do remember in my last relationship having issues with liking sex too much despite having been sexually abused as a child. This was a bad thing for me to– sorry– this was a big thing for me to overcome. I was able to overcome other parts of intimacy too. This helped me be more confident about how I could be in relationships and what kind of relationships I can have. It also made me realize how much I was able to let go of what had happened to me and heal from it through the first real relationship I had and how much therapy had helped me. It made me really proud of myself. I’m sorry if some of that triggered anything for you but I wanted to share that with you, um, because it was something I worked through in my last relationship and it made me proud of myself because it– I was able to feel like I was able to trust myself more and um, feel more– guess you could say– feel more confident in the relationship I was w– in. Um, and feel more confident about myself as well.
Um, if you communicate your needs well to your partner and friends then you’ll have a better relationship like Benjamin suggests you to do. It’s good to do this because then the people you’re in a relationship with know more about you and what you need to be happy. They can also try to help make you happier because they know how to do that bec– better since you communicate better, sorry, communicated better to them.
It’s important to be able to communicate your needs well because if you can’t do that well then people won’t be able to help you when you need it the most. I know that sometimes I have issues with communicating what I need to my family and friends. This doesn’t help me or them. If I can communicate better then they will know how to help me better.
Also when you talk about what you need more, your relationships become easier and more enjoyable, hopefully. I would hope, too, that they would be easier on both sides because both people would share what they need to have a successful relationship, whether that’s awareness of sensory issues, barriers, trust issues, etc. And possibly all of those things. I know that’s true for me.
As I close today I would like–you to be aware that people with NVLD, and possibly other learning challenges, do have sensory issues with the five senses: sight, taste, touch, hearing, and smell. I would like to hear from you about your challenges with these sensory areas. Even if you don’t have NVLD you can comment on it. Please comment on this episode on livingwithnld.com, or on youtube. Also, you can email them– email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you feel that is a more private way to communicate. I hope you learned something new today and enjoyed the episode. Talk to you next Friday.
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I have NLD and Chronic Migraines. But these challenges don’t stop me from living my life to the fullest. I have a full-time job at a non-profit where I can wear about 20 different hats such as social media, youth village support, admin assistant, or tech support. I also have a podcast, “Living With An Invisible Learning Challenge,” about mine and other neurodivergent challenges and triumphs. I am one of the Project Social Ambassadors for The NVLD Project.