Hi, I’ve never really connected or reached out in a way to a community of peers such as this, but here goes!
My name is Andrew and I’m 22 years old, I was diagnosed with NVLD around nine years ago and again about five years ago.
School unfortunately for a lot of us with NVLD can be extremely difficult in many different ways, and for me, there was no exception.
It didn’t seem like there was anything I excelled in besides being myself.
No matter how hard I tried with extra studying, learning how to socialize, or being “normal” nothing seemed to change. I went to the same elementary school until the middle of third grade and then to a different one that fortunately was a much better fit for me. After finishing grade six, my family moved across the country to be closer to family. Starting out at a brand new school in a new city was scary and a huge change. Middle school was the start of most problems in regard to learning and social development. The kids at my new school were nothing like where I came from, they all had big fancy houses and everything new all the time, they even acted differently.
I never really adjusted, I tried so hard to be friendly and make friends but all everyone did was make fun of me, I always stood out in the crowd. When it came to school work, things were not any better. When you have something like NVLD, it’s not very noticeable to diagnose right away. So when there was clearly a problem with learning the material none of the teachers, support staff or my own family knew how to help, it seemed like I tried absolutely everything to just be just like everyone else, but it never worked. My grades were not good, I was shamed by teachers, peers and was too ashamed to discuss them with my family. That whole cycle continued until ninth grade, when I was diagnosed as having NVLD. After that I’d like to say everything changed for the better, knowing a huge part about what was going on finally, but it didn’t. Small changes like going to the support room for class work or having extra time on tests were offered to me and I was told that’s what I needed to do better in school, but to everyone’s surprise that didn’t do anything to help me. Then I was blamed for not trying hard enough given the amenities I was allowed.
When you have a learning disability, in the eyes of the school, you get placed into a one size fits all category, even when that’s not what is needed for the situation. So the help that someone with dyslexia or ADD needs is not at all what I need, but we all get placed together anyway, and because others may have more common learning disabilities there’s more knowledge behind that and how to help them or they’re “easier“ to understand so they have an advantage over others there.
Going to high school was rough for many reasons, fallouts with friends, all new people, a huge new environment and more difficult classes. Things went about the same as middle school up until the end of my first year there, when a close family member passed away after struggling with their health for about a month. Everything came crashing down. At home nothing was the same, half of the house was empty and it was much quieter and sadder.The exams we had for the end of semester were a few days after they passed and I remember just walking around feeling so blank, I rushed through the exams and didn’t even study beforehand, or care if I got the correct answers. I remember trying to study about a month earlier and nothing was sticking.
After returning for the beginning of grade 11 things socially started to pick up, I was surprised, for the first time ever I had lots of friends and I didn’t even know why. Unfortunately that was a one semester long thing. Keeping friends was never something I was good at , but I have been working on and I think I’m a bit better. The next year and a half are kind of a sad blur. Grades were horrible, I couldn’t study, make friends or do anything. At the beginning of grade 12 I was diagnosed again with NVLD. Unfortunately still nothing good changed at school because of that.
One day around halfway through grade 12 I got called into the vice principals office , I was unsure of why. He told me that my grades were not sufficient to be considered for graduation. I didn’t even care. I was told I’d need to go attend the “adult school” for next year to receive my ged. Things continued along as they were, (I had also started skipping school that year, and just going to sit by myself because I was so sad) and to my absolute shock someone came out of the blue and was a saviour to me the last half of my grade 12 year. Mrs. Fitzgerald.
She helped me study and learn about my classes enough to where I was not completely failing everything, she was kind, thoughtful and patient. If it weren’t for her, I would not have even come close to graduating (which I was really close not to by the way, I think everyone just kind of felt bad for me and pushed me through)
High school graduation is a day that I get sick thinking about still, my Mother was so excited to see me graduate Because neither of us thought that day would come. On the way to the venue I had a panic attack, I saw everyone in their gowns and with their families and I just couldn’t deal with it. I felt so embarrassed about myself, and that everyone in the audience hated me. I let down my mom, quite a few people from the school and myself that day. I regret not going, even though I was so scared, my gown didn’t quite fit (because it was a one size fits all) and I didn’t have any friends there. It was still a big moment and one I wish I had been a part of.
I’m still so sorry to everyone I let down.
After that my family moved to a different part of the city, to be closer to amenities. The next four and a half years were spent trying to get a job, friends and figuring out what to do with my life. I wouldn’t say I completely failed but nothing came of it except a lot of very difficult very lonely times. About a couple months ago my family and I moved to a big city for a fresh start. The move was long and it was difficult to get rid of so many items that had belonged to our deceased relatives but it was necessary. We kept the special items and parted with the rest.
We’re slowly settling in, and I’m happy to say that for the first time in what feels like forever, I have high hopes for my future and truly believe that I can do everything I put my mind into. I’m more into my photography than ever before, and I’m looking into different ways I can do what I love and make a living.
I don’t ever want to give up, I always want to keep trying.
My name’s Andrew I am 22 years old and was diagnosed with NVLD when I was 13. I enjoy photography, baking and comedy.