That’s the best way to describe having Nonverbal Learning Disability. To help me understand, I need you to be specific. Use your words. I need them for clarity. Why did it become awkward? Did I miss something? Understanding can take some time for me and it’s only through brute force repetition that I’ll begin to see a pattern. Sometimes it feels like going through flashcards: this is your happy face, this is what it looks like when you’re angry, that’s what it looks like when you’re feeling sad. I can’t tell how you’re feeling right now, but I know based on the situation that you’re angry with me, and just a little disappointed.
Even if I’m wrong, you’ll tell me and we’ll talk, which is always easier for me if I can see and hear it at the same time. I’ve found it’s easier to understand if I don’t have to react to it, like on TV. My understanding is specific to how much I understand your personality- there are so many different types. My own personality is one of silent observation. Silence is my armor. I’m going to be quiet until I figure it out because it feels like I’m missing something that all of you are picking up naturally and I don’t want to look like too much of an idiot by confessing that I might have missed it. Old habits die hard I guess because I’m still getting used to how people are starting to become more accepting of everyone’s different struggles and conditions.
Most of the time I can’t stand the silence, unless it’s mine. Things tend to get fuzzy and jumbled inside my head and it can be hard to reorganize my thoughts into words unless you have something specific you want to talk about. Sometimes if your silence makes me uncomfortable, I’ll fill it with my own thoughts. I have a lot to say if you tell me what you want to talk about. It makes me feel unique because people are always caught off guard by how I can go from being so quiet to being super talkative. If I have something to say but we’re talking about another subject, I’ll remember it for later and wait until we reach a break in the conversation. It feels good to actually start the conversation sometimes. Make sure you let me know that you’re talking specifically to me though because sometimes in a crowded room I won’t be listening because I thought you were talking to someone else. It can be easy for me to tune others out in those situations. If you’re talking about me, it’s a pretty safe bet that I have no idea because I’m off in my own world. If you can’t say it to my face, I’m not even going to worry about it.
2019 has been good to me so far. I won employee of the month the other day at my job, so that just goes to show that having NLD doesn’t make you any less special than any of the neurotypical people around you.