I’m someone with NLD who dreads making phone calls. Here’s why:
-My speech prosody issues cause me to hesitate when I talk.
-Once a crank caller made fun of the inflections in my voice, which is kind of a gift in disguise because it let me know I have speech pattern issues, but was also a pain to deal with.
-I’ve been asked if I’m a child or adult, despite having been an adult for several years.
-Calling is especially difficult when it’s the first impression I make in a job setting.
-It’s hard for me to figure out exactly what I want to say at a given moment, plus my timing is awkward.
-Sometimes I speak too slowly or quickly, and I don’t really have control over this.
-My voice tends to be monotone-ish.
-I find conversation beginnings and endings kind of tough.
-Sometimes words don’t come out totally clearly and I accidentally mumble something.
-Sometimes people have trouble hearing what my name is.
-Though my speech issues aren’t super-severe, there are certain words (and word orders) I have trouble pronouncing.
These problems don’t stop me from making calls, but I find it a challenge. Unless it’s a simple question, I go through a mild panic phase before dialing a number (and I often mis-dial numbers). Answering the phone is less hard, but since I don’t have caller ID, it’s not totally nerve-free, either. Here are some things I’ve tried, though, that help a bit:
-when possible, telling people the range of days/times I’m planning to call
-asking that people call me rather than vice versa (only works half the time, though, if that)
-talking about NLD if I get the chance (though I strongly prefer doing this in writing first)
-following-up a phone call with an email that goes through what I didn’t get around to saying
-making notes before and during the call
-practicing what I’m going to say (though many times I just dial to get it over with)
-listening to other people make calls and imitating those who are successful
Recently one of my volunteer stints didn’t work out for reasons directly related to NLD (staffing a crisis line: in this case, it requires you to do 5 things at once: listen, confer with supervisor, complete form, look up community resources, and answer the caller’s question). Due to my NLD issues, I was not a good match, but I’m grateful I learned this in a low-stakes way (i.e., not in an internship or employment setting, where the problems would have been more stressful and counted for more). I’m still learning when I can compensate for my NLD issues and when to ask that someone else help me with something that is too overstimulating.
Sometimes when I can’t get help, I have no choice except to get through it. Imperfectly but with dignity and the strength that comes from dealing with NLD. So to people with NLD who read this, I’d like to point out the importance of not getting discouraged. Many people describe mistakes as learning opportunities. They are, but sometimes it takes a long time to get the good from them. It’ll happen. Keep up the good work.