Sunday, 26 December 2010
We've all read articles on Autisable about Autism and Asperger's, but I don't know if many of you know there is a higher functioning "version" of these disorders. It's called Non-Verbal Learning Disorder (NLD).
I was diagnosed with NLD when I was about 4 or 5 years old. This disorder affects the right side of the brain, affecting mainly social and motor skills. NLDs typically have strong verbal skills, but also have trouble with organizational skills and visual-spatial skills. NLD also creates a lot of social anxiety issues and trouble focusing.
Growing up, I always felt out of place. Even in kindergarten, my social issues effected relationships. For example, I was watching some old home videos, and we had a little holiday program in my classroom. I was isolated from the rest of the children. I was fine through my elementary school years, but middle school was the beginning of my tough years. I started becoming less and less naive an realizing more and more that friendships were a struggle for me. To this day, I don't have many friends (only a couple that see past my issues and can tolerate them), but I'm also managing to keep a boyfriend (who luckily has a learning disorder similar to mine and can relate to me).
Throughout elementary school and part of middle school, I was placed in speech-therapy, occupational-therapy and physical-therapy to strengthen my motor skills. Previous to my speech-therapy, I had poor eye-contact (part of my social issues) and my speech was hard to understand. Previous to my occupational therapy and physical therapy, I had illegible handwriting, and I had trouble buttoning, zipping, etc. and I had trouble with my balance. I admit I never learned how to ride a bike because my my lack of balance. To this day, I have to be cautious that i don't lose balance on stairs and on uneven surfaces.
Despite having my struggles, I feel like I've grown up a lot and I'm able to face most of them. I'm very proud of myself, because I've learned how to focus and stay on the right track despite what I've been through. Right now, I'm in my first year of college, becoming a Speech-Language Pathologist because I'd love to give back to those with similar issues to mine. I even managed to make the Dean's List this first semester with a 3.5 GPA.
One final note: I'd just like to tell the parents with children who have Autism, Asperger's or any other non-verbal disorder, please be patient. That's all that we ever want. My mom's friend has a child with a social disorder and my mom's friend just brushes it off as a phase. It is not. It can be VERY serious and we need someone with loving arms, even if we don't express it like a "normal" human being would. It's very hard for us, even if we seem unresponsive or not focused.