Moving to a town, have a new class, is a friend ignoring you, or something came out of nowhere? Anything new is inevitable meaning it’s bound to happen, but don’t be afraid of change. For those with NVLD, it’s time to get used to the unusual. We rely on routines, but I wouldn’t be who I am if I carried on with those routines. A new town can mean a new journey. A new class could become a new hobby. A new friend is better than one who is distant or using you. Something out of nowhere, good or bad, can teach you a lot.
- Be open to new opportunities and experiences, even if it feels weird, at first. Don’t let the unknown keep you from seeing what’s out there.
- Ask questions! Don’t get the answer right away? Ask more questions! It can be scary to say that you don’t understand, only someone will always be there to help you understand. If not at that moment, later in the day or in life. In middle school and high school, if I didn’t understand a question on an exam, I walked up to my teacher and asked if they could explain it a different way. Like all humans, not all teachers are willing to give another example or explain in a different way. Mostly because they want you to try and answer it the best way you can. If you can’t? That’s okay. It’s in our human nature to forget and move on. Disregard anybody who won’t give the answer that gives you satisfaction. It’s not worth the time and you will laugh about it later. I have.
- It is common knowledge that those with NVLD can get lost. Our visual-spatial awareness can make us feel turned around. Always—always be safe when you go anywhere. GPS is our friend, though don’t be afraid to take risks and go the road less travel. If something like driving scares you, practice! It doesn’t make you perfect, just better!
- It might be also common knowledge that those who have Non-Verbal Learning Disability can be more naïve and gullible. Here is what I can tell you: Speech and Occupational therapy help with understanding social cues and I cannot rave about it enough! I owe a huge thank you to whoever was my occupational therapist. During late elementary school through early middle school, I vividly remember her asking me, what I saw, how they felt, why this expression was separate from that expression—it helped grasp a lot with social cues. Then, came my speech therapist in high school. I began telling her about certain situations between my friends and me. Moments that confused me or where awkward, where she helped me see what went wrong and what I can say and do next time something similar happened. Speech and Occupational therapy are important for any age. Once you learn a lot of nonverbal cues, interactions and socializing get easier.
- Say, “I have Non-Verbal Learning Disability,” when you need to say it. Say it when you are comfortable enough to reveal it. You will find a lot of people will not know what it is, but it’s so much better to let them know what you have rather than the awkwardness that might besmirch a great conversation. Also, if their reaction is not a positive one, don’t let their ignorance ruin you day. I was 25-years-old and refused service at a liquor store because a manager thought I was drunk when I was just being loud in the isles with my friends. I looked him straight in the face, telling him, “I have Non-Verbal Learning Disability, which makes me struggle to understand tone of voice…” I offered to walk in a straight line or do anything to prove I wasn’t drunk. He wouldn’t budge and my friends asked if they could buy my alcohol for me. He allowed it and I dwelled over what happened. I was mad at myself that I let one of my symptoms take over. All before my friend said, “You were louder in the restaurant we went to than in the store and we didn’t get kicked out of the restaurant. Don’t feel bad about it. Honestly, the manager was probably having a bad day and took it out on you.” One thing I have learned is that nobody comes into this world understanding it. Who knows that manager looked up Non-Verbal Learning Disability after I left and saw I was telling the truth? Don’t let a situation like mine ever bring you down. Rise above! Speak up!
Olivia is a Project Social Ambassador from Illinois. She is a singer songwriter who was unaware of her NVLD for many years while growing up. She describes herself as an outgoing, ambitious, advernturous person who never gives up in a world of uncertainty.
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