Growing up with NVLD makes social skills and handling change a challenge. One of the ways to work through this is to connect with others who have the ability to interact with you to help make these challenges easier. Two people who made my challenges easier happened to be high school students. My Mom had been very involved in my sisters Odyssey of the Mind team so I became the team manager. The students in the program were a positive influence on me, however, the two who were the most supportive to me were Jason and Jennifer. Their older brother had a disability similar to mine so it was easier for them to help me out. Their support continued beyond OM and this was just the first of older peers that I looked up too.
Through OM Jennifer became one of our babysitters and had a significant impact on our family. Having grown up with an older disabled brother, she, without a doubt, understood the dynamics of our household. She not only had the ability to help me with the frustrations of my challenges she was a strong resource for my sister as she demonstrated how to have more patience with me. As for her brother Jason, his support to us was less direct but had the same positive impact on us. He was one of the few teenage boys that understood why I communicated the way I did. Later on, I went to the restaurant he worked at he was so understanding of fine motor and communication challenges. The two of them were the perfect role models for our family.
As time went on I continued to observe how happy they were as a family with a disabled child. This helped increase my confidence with my interpersonal interactions with my own family. Jason and Jennifer set the tone for how important it is to value inclusion, especially in the family unit. This became incredibly evident when I had the wonderful opportunity of having their father as a coach as I learned how much our families had in common. Just being a part of conservations with him and hearing how his family managed day to day life I knew we valued each other’s personal experiences.
Overall while it may seem hard at first it is so important to connect with others to help you as you meet the challenges of NVLD. They don’t necessarily need to be your best friends, all that matters is they are caring and supportive. The Adams’ weren’t our’s though their friendship became extra special since we shared similar experiences. I still look up too Jason and Jennifer as they followed their parents’ example to always be inclusive. Yes, your support may be different but I am confident it will lead to an everlasting positive effect on your journey. Always remember “It takes a village to a raise a child.”
I admired this family!