Resilience – merely defined as the ability to overcome difficulties, toughness. This word I learned from a very young age, and have frequently used and demonstrated for as long as I can remember. Allow me to explain. As many of you know I was diagnosed with a learning disorder which is called Non-Verbal Learning Disorder. This disorder becomes an instant obstacle manifesting itself in everyday life. Obstacles can be things such as places, especially parking lots, it can impact your life in ways such as struggling with homework, in school and in sports. Later as a young adult this would impact my professional careers as well, in ways I had never imagined.
But through the trials and tribulations of life I learned to always overcome and to work hard, and most importantly to adapt! I learned the meaning of hard work at the elementary school level when every night I would be doing homework for three to four hours at a time, often longer. I did this without stopping, and without “diddle daddling.” I was focused and determined to finish. I still recall after completing my nightly homework that feeling of relief and freedom at last having time for fun and time to be a kid. I learned this as well on the wrestling mat, where despite extreme effort the victories never did quite come. I wrestled year round, worked out constantly and for me it never stopped. It served as a great confidence booster, and taught me that through hard work, much can be achieved, even if the wins never quite were there. Later as a police recruit I would see these same lessons yet again, but would still fall just short given a difficulty with firearms shooting (probably due to lack of motor skills, or hand eye coordination- both can be present in those with this disorder.)
But the resilience taught to me through that painful experience would later serve wonders for myself as I faced the challenges of boot camp and college. Yes, through mental resilience I was able to graduate boot camp and go on to a career in the military, one that I look back on with a sense of pride. Things like finishing college, graduating high school with a 3.2 overall GPA (despite my transgressions in mathematics). I even learned how to drive a stick shift, a feat for us neuro-atypicals. It is thanks to this, at times rough and tumble upbringing that I was able to accomplish much and still do. So to the parents reading this, fear not, yes challenges lay ahead and yes you will see them struggle, but they are gaining valuable intangible experience for the real world, they are learning grit and determination, know that and trust the process. To my fellow neuro-atypical, congrats you’re ahead of the game, you have a skill most don’t, you know what it means to struggle and overcome. In the great scheme of things this skill forged through adversity will take you far, and is a valuable quality to have. You possess something that many do not have, or do not learn much later in life. Use this to your advantage and overcome the obstacles you once thought insurmountable, but now know through experience require a little bit of extra effort.
This disorder has impacted my life in a variety of ways, some positive and some negative. I have a diverse professional background to include military service and law enforcement, with that said I am currently focusing on education as well as becoming a Foreign Service Officer. I am a proud Navy Spouse, and as such have moved three times in the past three years! NVLD has impacted my professional and academic life, and has taught me how to be resilient , and I have chosen to maintain a positive outlook in regards to this disorder. I have created a YouTube Channel in order to bring about a positive outlet for this and other “Neuro A-typicals” and also to raise awareness.