When I was 9, I woke a nocturnal pet rodent before school. My pet was upset about being woken up and bit my finger. I was so ashamed about being bitten that I told my parents I’d cut myself on the cage’s broken edge. After the pet died, my dad said maybe he would come back as an elephant. I wasn’t greatly bonded with this particular pet, but I was sad because I felt a sense of emotional unresolve. It’s really hard to resolve things when one side of your brain isn’t caught up with the other.
A year later, I lost my great-grandmother. I was very sad, and none of the adults talked with me about this loss. I was expected to go around with the flock of relatives, and did not get to express my feelings. Thus, those feelings were not resolved. Though my grief got less intense over the years, I sensed an odd paradox.
In one way, I felt set apart from other people. In another, I had all these emotional reactions I couldn’t put together neatly or evenly. Though these emotions can be tough to express, or may get expressed in unusual ways, they are not, as literature about social communication disorders often suggests, an absence of emotion. More likely, these reactions are appropriate ones but we have trouble putting them into words on the spot. Many times the big emotions are overwhelming enough to feel, let alone say.
I wish that as a child, I’d been taught to use “I feel” statements. I also wish parents and teachers did more emotional-learning activities with me, and helped me recognize my feelings. I also think NLD kids could be greatly helped if adults give them situations and ask them how someone might feel.
People with NLD can be extremely emotionally sensitive. The more this gets discussed, the easier it will be for people with NLD.