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Diagnosed with Nonverbal Learning Disorder... Help me...

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Joined: Apr 08, 2007
Posts: 1
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Posted Apr 08, 2007 at 5:44:34 AM
Subject: Diagnosed with Nonverbal Learning Disorder... Help me...

I'm writing this in the early hours of easter morning, before I go to bed, I don't know why. I just felt like it.

I find myself in a difficult position
Dealing with the information I have found out
I'm having much trouble in my life
As the torment of feeling inadequite lingers about

A disorder, disorder! Nonverbal learning disorder
It seems to be a heavy blow
Failing at almost everything I do in life
Feeling pains most will never know

I come here for help, for council and advice
As difficult as it can be
With a lack of confidence in myself
What will happen to me

If any of you could help, I could really use it
I feel that I might just soon lose it.
I want to be happy as I love to see others so.
I want to be able to prosper and grow.

So now I come to the conclusion
That I must seek aid wherever I can
To do this alone is truly a dillusion
To restore completeness to this shell of a man.

(End Poem, I just kinda felt like writing it.)

Oh lord where do I start...

I have been diagnosed clinically with Nonverbal Learning Disorder. Over my entire life through elementary and junior high, I've had trouble with induviduals as well as work. Buckling down and concentrating on work was extremely difficult and I felt many times it was a waste of time. My marks for the most part up until high school fluctuated from great to poor.

Now entering the highschool years.

Grade 10, I failed miserably. Out of Sceince, Social, English, and Math, I failed all of them except Social Studies which I squeezed by with a 51%.

I was pretty much kicked out of that school and sent to another school that had just began to develop a "work at your own pace program."

Big mistake.

The only thing I can find myself truly treasuring about the whole experience through highschool, it was the friends I made, friends I still have until this day. I've been called lazy a lot. I've been unmotivated to progress with my life during my highschool years, any inklings of hope eventually quashed by yet another failure, whether it be acedemic or social. Took me 4.5 years to complete Highschool with the bare bones minimum. After finishing high school there were the job periods.

Now I'm 24. I've tried going to technical school to upgrade my courses, big mistake as I wasted $2200 of my parents money for school I dropped out when I was 21-22.

Also, over the past 8 years since I got my first job, I have never been able to keep one for longer than six months or so. In which one of 3 things happen:

1. I start off decent to well in the beginning but begin to choke soon once expectations get higher.

2. I get depressed and discouraged by negative induviduals around me and my productivity decreases.

3. I lose interest in the work if its not overly challenging or mentally stimulating and get depressed.

Current number of jobs either quit or fired: 13

I have been unemployed for the last 3 and a half months now, my last job being a meat-cutter position for save on foods. I was a bit slow and my knife-cutting skills weren't really improving, but I had an enthusiasm they liked when I tried to make customers happy, catering to customers -always- in a very professional sometimes formal, sometimes informal manner. it was the few jobs I had that I didn't hate. I know it shouldn't, but I find myself treasuring the moments where my boss says I did something well when I actually know I did. So many times I feel its empty motivational praise, unsure and unabl to tell if it really is or not.

The reason I left though was my 3 month probationary period was coming up and I was almost sick with the idea of getting fired with this job, as well as a woman in my department really hated me because I kept on absent-mindedly asking her the same questions sometime she couldn't answer. And for another reason as well, as once I didn't wrap a fish in the certain manner appropriate and she was rude to me saying "You think you can make your own policies and procedures". I was in no mood to argue, I did not want her to ruin my day so I just did what she said.

What I did a week or two later though got her to really hate me.

She was handling meat without gloves at a certain instance (which technically is acceptable in the back since we wash our hands thoroughally, but not in the front counter. So, I felt it upon myself in some gesture of social justice to report this woman, who had been working for the store since it opened 8 years ago, to the supervisors.

She despised me after, when I approached her in a polite and professional manner to what problem she had with me, calling me a "squealer".

That was the last straw, I felt a sense of sadness and dread every day I had to go to work thereafter, and soon I informed my supervisors I wanted to formally resign and could do the 2 week thing, and they know what I was feeling and said I could leave earlier if I wanted to. I chose the latter option since I wanted to get the heck out of there.

I really did enjoy the job, the high points were great as most my other co-workers were really nice, the pay was decent, not great, ( earning $11.10 an hour for someone like me who can't hold a job, it was wonderful), staff room was nice as there was TV and all, and as a meat cutter, while it was a messy job, it carried with itself a certain feeling of prestige since other than management, and pharmacy, we were the highest paid position.

Its all gone and behind me now. I sit in front of my computer now usually about 6-10 hours a day, playing video games, pretending to be people I'm not in chat rooms, and sometimes pondering slightly on suicidal thoughts, though I havn't even come close to going about any actions. The thoughts and despair are their most potent at night, as I usually feel better in the morning and afternoon, fermenting my life away living with my parents.

I don't know what I can ask specifically from you guys... support, advice, anything you could offer I would sincerely pappriciate.

I don't want to be a failure in my life. I want love, I want a family someday with children, I don't want to be just another lost soul writhing in agony as the torrent of dissonant feelings just overwhelm me and make me feel inadequite. I want to do something before its too late, but in a way I do almost feel like its too late. I feel like a complete loser who will never move on with their life and end up lving with my parents until they die, then me having a mental breakdown when they do and ending my own life.

Help me...

(I apologize if what I write is really wordy, I'm not doing it to show off or anything, I just enjoy expressing myself through writing. Only reason I don't persue a career in writing is again a feeling of sub-standardness to most, combined with a severe lack of acedemic credentials)

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Joined May 10, 2007
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Posted:May 10, 2007 2:50:19 AM

First of all, it's not too late. If I can be successful, I am reasonably confident that anybody can.

I specifically remember losing my first baby tooth during my WISC test, and I'm 23 now, so it's been a while since I've been at all evaluated.

As far as I know, NLD wasn't recognized then, so I was diagnosed with "right-hemisphere compromise." My mother tells me it means the same thing, but she acknowledges that right hemisphere compromise is a lot more general. Based on my limited knowledge of neuropsychology, it could include more pronounced differences such as AS or HFA. Anyway, I intend to get retested when I can find somewhere that is trustworthy and far enough that I don't need to worry about who will know I went there.

I spent quite a bit of time in special education. I could read fine, but needed help understanding the greater meaning (classic NLD). Later, in junior high, I became extremely self-conscious when the special ed teachers would try to help me organize my notebook. I wasn't comfortable having people track me so closely. I also didn't really understand why I was there. I only knew that I had a learning disability, I did not know what to call it. It was a little ironic that I had no words for a "condition" that left me relying on words. My mother didn't see the importance of giving it a name, instead generalizing that it affected visual and organizational skills(oversimplification!?). I want to note that this is not intended to be a criticism of my parents. They don't like when I say this, but I give them all the credit in the world for dealing with me for more than two decades.

I pulled out of special ed in 10th grade and assumed I had the learning disability beat. My academic performance did improve, but only because I spent a lot more time studying.

Meanwhile, I had been in some sort of mental health treatment on and off for as long as I can remember. Sometimes it was clincal psychologists or psychiatrists (I was always against taking medications though, probably more so than was rational). In college, I saw a counselor for the anxiety and social trouble that I was having. Among other things, it came up that I had a learning disability but did not know what to call it. My counselor said, in a sympathetic tone, "You don't know your own learning disability?" At that moment I resolved to find out. My mother then fed me the words "right hemisphere compromise."

This past summer, I had just graduated from college and could not find a job. My father tried to tell me it was a normal transition, but I just could not accept that. I had something to prove, and I was distraught that I was failing.

It was in the middle of one of my angry rants that my mother brought up my condition again, this time specifying the words "Nonverbal Learning Disability". There was a disagreement, and she wanted to remind me that I have trouble keeping things in perspective.

Now I have a job that requires concentration, motor skills, social skills, and spatial skills. I'm not the cream of the crop, but I've been there five months and not been fired yet.

The right people do appreciate you. The thing is that people like you and I need words to understand that. It's rare for someone to express genuine gratitude, but it does happen. When it does, it's up to you to recognize it and see it as a reason to feel good about yourself.

I still shudder to think of what my life would amount to if things didn't work out the way they had. I don't really think I'll ever be the quickest to move up the ladder or have the most active social life, but there are times when it's worth being special. The fact is, I wouldn't trade my NLD brain for a typical brain if you paid me a million bucks. I hope you can learn to make yours work for you.

Of course, you have to judge for yourself, but if you can be around people who openly appreciate you, it makes a big difference. Do you have anybody you can call or write? My grandparents think I'm cheering them up when I call or visit. They don't believe me when I tell them it's the other way around.

I'd be the last person to tell you that you are incorrect or irrational to feel desparate, depressed, or anxious. I will say that if you can come out of it, it's worth it in the long run. Eventually, you will get a break in terms of employment, it's a matter of finding a place that's good for you and learning what it takes to handle problems at work.

Whatever support you choose to get is up to you. I will just note that there are people who appreciate us as we are. They are out there, and you will find them if you haven't already. I wish you luck!

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Joined Jan 11, 2004
Posts: 64

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Hello Joe:
You might check into your states Vocational Rehabilitation Services. Sometimes these services can offer some vocational training which is free. In Michigan this service is called Michigan Rehabilitation Services. Having a learning disability qualifies you for these services.

Hello lfod83:
Thanks for sharing. Your response is really helpful and very encouraging.

Jim -- Michigan www.geocities.com/jnuttallphd

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Joined May 26, 2007
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Posted:May 26, 2007 4:51:27 PM

Joe: I saw a neuropsychologist yesterday and he made the diagnosis that I've been searching for all of my life: Non-Verbal Learning Disorder. I've had four neuropsychological tests over the last 6 years and it's the first time that any neuropsych put the pieces together to make the diagnosis that I've been searching for all my life. And I'm 42, so at 24 consider yourself lucky that you didn't have to wait for so many years for a professional to tell you the reason that you can't function and that it's not all in your head. It's as real as the changes in the season. Needless to say, I can relate to most of the symptoms that you've described above. Our symptoms may not be exact, but close enough. And everything I've been reading on line (www.nldontheweb.org) fits what the neuropsych said to a "T".

The challenge, of course, is what to do now. He has referred me to a private vocational rehab specialist who supposedly has expertise in working to help NVLD sufferers land employment that matches their strenghts.

As far as the State Vocational Rehab Services being helpful, that's definitely not been the case in my experience. They're clueless in terms of how to help people with advanced degrees find employment. At least that's been my experience working with the DC Dept of Rehab Services. What they are good for is paying for any kind of job-retraining that you will need (and I realize that that's a lot to some people). But as far as working with reasonably intelligent people who have a desire to do more meaningful work than sweep floors, they're clueless. I've gotten the run around from them since I started working with them almost 2 years ago. And heaven forbid that you should launch a complaint against a counselor: it only makes them less likely to want to help.

That's not to say that you shouldn't contact the state voc rehab services office in your state. But again, they're clueless as to how to help people with any kind of mental deficits (of course, I recognize that these type of cases are difficult to help).

I would talk to the neuropsych who made your diagnosis as to what he or she would recommend. As I said, mine recommended that I start working with a private VR specialist (which means of course that I will have to pay), but I figure that if I get results it will be worth it.

At this point, I'm just still learning about my disability, so can't offer much more advice other than the above, but if I hear of any resources from my VR specialist, I'll certainly let you know.

I want to say "hang in there" but I realize that those phrases are meaningless when you're really suffering, as I am and sounds like you are also.



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Joined May 28, 2007
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Hey Joe, I'm sorry you've been diagnosed with this type of learning disability.

I've had this learning disability since I've been in sixth grade. I'll tell you now it's not easy. All the ridicule you get from you fellow peers, parents, friends. It really sucks. I don't know how your doing with your studies, but they will probably suffer too.

That's the bad news, the good news if you can consider this good news is that if you perservere you'll be alot tougher and a little happier.
It's never going to be perfect, so don't strive too hard.

Some sage advice I can give you. Do what makes you happy. Don't take drugs or drink heavily. This will only confuse you at this point. I'm not sure what your into (sports, hobbies, arts) all of these are good for your mind. They immerse your mind in something other than what's going on around you.Don't get hung up on what other people say. Most of them don't know what's going on. There lost in their own lives.

These are a few ideas you can implement right now.Don't wait start now and I promise you'll feel better. You always want to keep challenging yourself. Keep pushing, don't let anybody else tell you what you can't do.

One last helpful idea. I would seek out a support group that has LD and ADD/ADHD members. You can support each other and learn from each other.

Above all don't panic. I would write down some goals you want to change and decide how to accomplish those
goals. There are numerous books out there showing you the roadmap on how to do this. Take risks and profit emotionally and spiritually and possibly financially.

Good Luck


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A person
Joined Apr 22, 2005
Posts: 119

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Hi Joe,

I have multiple LD's which may be comparable to NLD. I won't go ahead and say that I'm NLD, when I don't have an official diagnosis. Check out the website NLDLine.com for all kinds of useful information about NLD and coping strategies for the disorder.
[Modified by: A person on June 12, 2007 01:12 PM]

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Joined Aug 20, 2006
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Vocational Rehabilitation is an *excellent* suggestion. They can provide you with resources for just about anything imaginable. They'll also give you career testing to help you nail down something that will fit well with you and your symptoms.

One thing I will toss out, which is pure opinion and not likely to be very popular, is that "Non-Verbal Learning Disability" is a bit of a BS diagnosis. (Ever heard of anyone with "Verbal Learning Disorder"? Of course not) There isn't even much consensus on exactly what the diagnostic criteria are. The problem is that we don't know nearly as much about visuospatial processing difficulties and the upper ends of the autism spectrum as we do about verbal deficits. So while verbal difficulties can be divided into numerous different diagnoses with at least moderately fine-tuned diagnostic criteria (reading disabilities, communication disorders, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, auditory processing deficits, etc.), visual difficulties all get lumped together.

People who have difficulties with eye contact, have a very hard time recalling particulars about people they've met, don't seem to really even recall people they've met- claiming people generally just look alike anyway, who have great difficulty reading facial expressions that aren't eggagerated, and who don't always make proper facial expressions themselves, and who can't seem to organize their notes or even hold a schedule to save their lives...sounds like a prime candidate for AS or NVLD, right? But even moderate prosopagnosia, face blindness, can account for ALL of those symptoms except disorganization. Toss in mild to moderate difficulties with visuospatial processing, and you've got an incredibly messy house, rampantly disorganized desk space and backpacks, and an inability to organize the space on paper for proper note taking.

As far as WAIS scores? You could imagine this person would do poorly on block design due to difficulties committing visual images into their mind and performing manipulations of the objects. Since the Picture Arrangement subtest of the WAIS involves facial expressions as a way to determine the order of the different slides, one would imagine that this would be quite impaired. A poor visual memory due to problems processing visual information (from the visuospatial deficit) could translate into a deficit on coding (which tests many things, but which relies heavily on visual memory) as well as matrix reasoning- which requires you to commit visual informations to visual working memory. And there you have it, a big gap between verbal and performance test scores.

I suppose my point is that while you should certainly make use of your report and really start dissecting your life to find out where your deficits are getting in the way, it may not be a bad idea to find someone to evaluate you later on who has more experience dealing with a broad array of visual processing difficulties as well as high functioning autism, and who knows how to differentiate between them and who doesn't automatically group everything together.

But that's just me!

Jesse- who has a big gap between verbal and performance scores due to visual processing deficits but who most certainly does not have AS or NVLD

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