Archive for May, 2009

Do NLD signs run in families?

May 30, 2009

I think they do, but I’d like to know from other people’s experiences. Both my parents have some visual-spatial issues.  I also have several extended relatives who struggle with social communication.

NLD and Physical Symptoms

May 25, 2009

Though I’d like to do more research, I sometimes wonder if NLD is (in part) a physical syndrome. Sometimes my visual-spatial resources get really overwhelmed and I start feeling ill. It could be due to my medicine, which causes headaches, but I also think it’s one of the ways NLD individually affects me.

My headaches are almost always on the left side of my head. I can’t help thinking the right side of brain is saying “I’m tired, stressed, and overstimulated.” It tends to happen when I study without enough breaks or am at a social event for longer than I can easily deal with.

How does NLD relate to sensory processing?

May 22, 2009

Yesterday I looked through some sensory integration checklists and wrote down the issues that are true for me.  As always, there’s variation in how we with NLD experience our issues.  Some things that are issues for me will be non-issues for other people with NLD, and vice versa.  I also think age of diagnosis is a factor in sensory perception.

By the way, I like the term “social perception” better than “social comprehension.”  NLD causes problems in perceiving social stimuli, but we can understand what’s going on over time, and with help.  Misunderstandings sometimes happen, but we do understand a great deal about our environment.

Due to my individual sensory issues, I find even walking on a level surface somewhat disorienting.  I try to be careful on the stairs, as I easily lose my balance.  I’ve climbed ladders, but get scared doing so.  I like music at a low volume.

More about sensory processing as I read and learn more.

What a cute picture and vision!

May 21, 2009

Since this is a blog, I must sometimes comment on things I find on the web.  Today Google is decorated by a student’s picture of an island/beach scene–perfect for summer.  Importantly, the artist comments that he hopes new thoughts and discoveries will help the world get through our current difficulties.  Read the statement and view the art work here:

http://www.google.com/doodle4google/.

I love this phrase “What I Wish For the World.”  Here are some of my wishes for NLD prosperity:

-That all children with NLD symptoms be correctly diagnosed early.

-That NLD is recognized as a completely official diagnosis.

-That more studies be conducted, and lots of them.

-That this blog helps people.

And I’m really just beginning to express my thoughts on NLD.  There’s much still to say.  More later.

NLD and Food Issues

May 21, 2009

As a child, I was an extremely picky eater.  I stared at combinations of food and could not eat them, let alone chew or swallow.  Many years later, I developed sensitivity to dairy products, which is both genetic and a reaction to my medication (I have a co-occurring chronic medical condition–long story).  As late, I no longer eat dairy, except in trace amounts and situations when I feel that having a few bites is easier than discussing these issues.  I’m a very reserved person.  That’s one reason it took me so long to do a blog.

Then I began my work search and realized how much ignorance there is about NLD and the spectrum.  Since this must change, I must blog.  My food issues obviously add anxiety to the social scene, as does the fact that I don’t drive.  I’m a lax vegan (sometimes eat foods with trace amounts of animal products and can’t give up honey), so I’m learning how to love vegetables.  Some observations follow:

-Bowls are easier to eat from than plates.  Spoons are easier to eat with than forks.

-An NLD person may find it necessary to eat very slowly.  I do, because I don’t want to drop my silverware or spill on myself or the table.

-One food is less overwhelming than several combined ones.

-Sometimes there are foods we just don’t like, and it probably won’t change.  It won’t do any good to try and force a kid to eat; it will just lead to future anxiety, and worse, future eating issues (will be blogged on later).

-It may be that warm or room temperatures are more easily tolerated (obviously depends on food and season) than cold or chilled.

-Kids with NLD should be encouraged to learn cooking skills.  Find pictures of recipes whenever possible.

-Use hidden food techniques if needed, but also have kids help with cooking.

More on this in the future.

NLD Advocacy: Beyond Diagnosis

May 20, 2009

One reason I sometimes take left v. right brain quizzes is to learn more about the potential strengths of NLD thought. Too often, NLD discussions gloss over strengths and obsessively describe weaknesses. I support a different approach. It has three components:

A) Individual analysis: NLD has variations. Some of us, as I’ve mentioned before, enjoy studying foreign languages, and some of us find it nearly impossible. Some of our NLD issues closely intersect with other LDs, such as ADD or Asperger’s Syndrome. Other times NLD is the sole most precise description of what we deal with. Some of us received social skill development help at younger ages than others, which makes a big difference in terms of one’s social comfort level. Each person with NLD has some variations. My advice is to both read NLD case studies and get to know several people (obviously those who feel comfortable discussing this issue) who have it.

B) Never forget our strengths and talents: I talk about this a lot, but for wonderful reasons. There are many things we with NLD have aptitude for, things we enjoy so exuberantly that we don’t think to excess about the challenges. As just one example, I know people with NLD who love acting so much they gladly watch movies several times to rehearse movements.

C) Understand and be sensitive to our weaknesses: We are humans with very real emotions and significant challenges. Parents and teachers can help NLD kids by discussing weaknesses individually. Employers can help by scheduling regular meetings and reading about NLD. Ask people you know with NLD what we think about our abilities and what we specifically see as toughest. Too often, NLD discussions are very negative and grim. I beg to respectfully differ. Yes, NLD has some negative potential, but that just means negative things need making into more positive ones. We must focus on what is and can be positive.

NLD and “Left Brain, Right Brain”

May 20, 2009

Sometimes I take “Are you a more ‘left-brain” or ‘right-brain’-inclined thinker?” quizzes. Most results don’t go into a detailed evaluation (at least not for free, and since I rarely buy things online I’ve never paid for this), but I found a free quiz that does offered through the Art Institute of Vancover (http://www.wherecreativitygoestoschool.com/vancouver/left_right/rb_test.htm). Some cautions I’ve found regarding left/brain v. right/brain quizzes:

-Oftentimes these quizzes are either true/false or make you pick a rating (i.e., “My desk is cluttered ___” always, often, sometimes, rarely). I argue that ratings vary greatly based on the activity, what else goes on that day, whether the task is timed, et cetera. So while the sometimes/often/rarely ratings may provide a general idea, they may be too general.

-Even though my visual and verbal perfomance IQs have huge point differences (i.e., “superior” range for verbal v. mild to moderate impairments for visual-spatial), my quiz results tend to be more evenly split.

-I like some said-to-be right-brain tasks. For instance, I love creative, unstructured activities. My favorite college assignments were essays and response papers. I enjoy simple art projects and creative writing. I also love music, both as a listener and string player. In addition, I get hunches about people and situations. I feel emotions very sensitively, perhaps overly so.

-I hope to write about scientific views of left and right brain issues in the future. This scholarship is critical to NLD and spectrum advocacy and to our building of a community that helps people with NLD in the most effective ways.

Twitter

May 20, 2009

I just joined twitter to help raise awareness of NLD and this blog.

You can follow me here:

http://twitter.com/hannahcamille

Twitter is (in my view at least) easier to use than many other social media sites, and for this I am thankful.  More NLD topics very soon.

NLD and Getting Through Get Togethers

May 19, 2009

I have great trouble at family get-togethers. I am fortunate to have a few relatives I love seeing, but in most cases, I don’t find the family events warm. I find them overtiring, boring, and dismal. Relatives tend to fall into a few main categories with respect to how they see my NLD:

1) They ignore me and pretend I don’t exist.

2) They are supportive and listen to my issues.

3) They pathologize the NLD symptoms and make untrue assumptions.

4) They ask intrusive questions that aren’t their business.

I’m aware that I sound accusatory in making these observations, but after years of reviewing the events, I know what’s going on. Here are some suggestions for helping NLD kids in social situations:

-Talk with kid in advance about social event in detail.

-Be on hand to sit with kid any time he/she feels uncomfortable (especially a younger child, but even when older, this support can be necessary, particularly if people you’re not sure about are there).

-Have kid signal you when he/she feels tired, and respect kid’s need for an early bed time (NLD is arguably a physical syndrome as well as neurological).

-Don’t overload kid with too many events. Pick a small number and opt out of things that are too overwhelming. Give your child’s opinion weight: if he/she is anxious and/or tired, respect these issues and help with planning and damage control.

-Ask kid what he/she thinks about social situation and provide feedback.

-Ask kid what things make him/her anxious and what you can do to help.

-Tell your child you understand that social situations cause anxiety and that it’s not his/her fault, and that he/she has many talents and abilities.

-Respect your child’s right to confidentiality, and don’t tell sensitive stories without child’s prior permission to do so.

Childhood social situations are the foundation for relating well as an adult. If these observations help even one family impacted by NLD, then I will have done something very positive to reduce the suffering and stigma this LD too often leads to. With social skill training (make sure it’s age-appropriate, interactive, and not insulting), relationships can be emotionally supportive learning experiences.

NLD as an Adolescent Girl

May 19, 2009

Here’s a vignette from my past, brought back in the hopes of helping others:

Freshman year of high school, I obsessed over a senior boy and could not get over it. At the time, I wanted a relationship. I didn’t know how to tell if he liked me. I wrote notes and left them on his locker and even doorstep. I called his number just once, and talked to his mother but did not identify myself. Predictably, the crush was just that, and of course unrequited.

In a totally Queenbees & Wannabes moment, an older girl (friend of his) told a friend of mine I was out of line. Since I still had undiagnosed NLD, I took this criticism more harshly than what was intended (though I still maintain that school kids are often insensitive to each other, and could only attend a class reunion if all my good friends were there to talk with me). I sent an (accepted) apology back through the grapevine. I berated myself. I went to extremes. I asked my friends if they thought I was a stalker.

Fortunately they were on my side and would not let me over-criticize myself. I had no adult mentors back then, so I just had my same-age friends to run stuff by. In contrast to lots of NLD literature, I was able to see my errors and move on after a couple days. I now know just about everyone has a story like this, and I can laugh about it. I’m glad I learned not to over-crush, but I’d have other issues over the next few years.

Which brings me to a related point: NLD is not simply the NLD-person’s issues. NLD is just as much about how society views this LD.