One of the hardest things about having an NVLD is that you are more likely to be underestimated compared to other Learning Disabled students. Because so many face diverse challenges, it can be harder to see our strengths while our weaknesses are more noticeable. Over the years this often happened to me.
One of the first ways this happened to me was my desire and ability to create friends. Yes, it’s true I gained social skills in a different way but what people couldn’t always see was that I was a good friend if people took an interest in me. This is why I think the friends I made from cross-country ended up being my closest high school friends as my coach understood my disability better by knowing my parents for years and he was able to connect me with a peer group so I knew how to interact.
Another example is how people underestimated my true ability. For example in classes like history and english I surprised others with the books I often chose and my current events came from the NY Times. Fortunately, I had a great memory and work ethic and did well despite my slow processing speed. Today I still surprise others in conversations by how well read I am and feel this is unfortunately common for someone with an NVLD as our unique learning styles makes it easier for others to see our deficiencies rather than our strengths.
Next, very few people believed that I wouldn’t make it in college. I believe this was largely because our district was deficiently unaware of what options were out there so they couldn’t understand we were only looking at the Comprehensive Support Programs. I was fortunate that my dad was a school counselor in districts where counselors were being asked to look for college options for all students. As a result, having a strong work ethic and a love for new experiences, college became a realistic goal for me. However, the admissions process was hard as only a few people understood how to navigate it and, at times, I doubted myself. However, Once I got there I was successful and those who had doubts were so proud of me and admitted my situation was new to them.
Without full awareness of the nature of an NVLD it is a challenge to see and understand one’s true abilities and strengths thus leading to underestimating their true potential. This is just one example of why change is needed. So as you are going through your educational years, I have much empathy for you. I can say though by working hard, being dedicated, and maintaining a positive attitude people will see your true abilities in all aspects of life. Always remember: believing in yourself is the first step towards others seeing the true you.
I adore my college friends and am so thankful forJim Adams for always seeing the true me!Share your own story