My name is Danielle and I am a 27 year old adult with a nonverbal learning disability. I was diagnosed in February of 1999, two weeks before my 6th birthday. At that time, not much was known about NVLD and it wasn’t that common, especially in girls. I am fortunate enough to have grown up just outside of Boston where we had access to world class doctors and specialists.
Prior to that, my parents and the school I was attending had some concerns. I had a great vocabulary and a great memory but would often talk out of context and seem unaware of how to interact with others, not having the ability to pick up on social cues. I also had some sensory sensitivities (specifically not liking to be touched or hugged and sensitive to loudly noise). I had no spatial awareness and poor fine motor skills. Before receiving the NVLD diagnosis, I was tested for OCD, ADD and Autism Spectrum Disorder – but no one could find an answer.
At that time, my parents (specifically my mother) took a huge leap of faith. My mother had read about early intervention (mainly occupational therapy) and the effects it had. Both of my parents fought like crazy to get me services, which without a diagnosis at the time, was difficult.
I have fond memories of the early days of OT and speech therapy- I remember the therapists using my sister as sort of a peer role model to help me gain appropriate social skills. The research my mother did, along with the interventions I received, gave me a fighting chance to have the best life possible and words can’t describe how blessed I am for that alone.
As I got older (and to be honest even still as an adult) I still really struggle socially. I often felt and continue to feel as though I am on the outside looking in. Trying to read non-verbal social cues often feels like learning a foreign language.
But I am one of the lucky ones. I got services early- I continued to receive services throughout my entire school career- I went to summer camps and social skills groups. As a teenager, I struggled to accept my disability and it made me feel “less than.” However, one thing was certain. One day I was going to help children in a similar position to mine. I constantly had to remind myself that I was one of the lucky ones.
I struggled in college and ended up dropping out. I worked a myriad of various customer services positions and never felt passion or drive for any of them. Finally, I fell into the field of working with those with special needs (specifically autism) in early intervention- I have a purpose and love what I do everyday. These children have taught me more then I could ever teach them. They have taught me empathy and compassion. They have really shown me how blessed I am and how far the special education system has come over the last 20 years. I am finally feeling confident in my ability to go back to school and pursue this passion. I am forever grateful that my experiences, especially those in early intervention that have helped shape me into the woman I am today. I know that the sky is the limit for me and I no longer struggle with my NVLD, today it is something I embrace and I know that I really am one of the lucky ones.
I am a 27 year old woman with NVLD. I work with special needs children and I am working to pursue my passion!Share your own story