I agonize over many of my social decisions–like whether to contact someone or wait to be contacted. Or how to convey my reactions. Sometimes I get very depressed because I just don’t know what to do, and I don’t have anyone in my life I can ask, except for my therapist. She is wonderful and very good at explaining and translating the social messages I have trouble putting together, but I obviously can’t ask about every little thing, and sometimes I have to make a social decision before I can talk about it with her.
Sometimes I’m not sure I know what I don’t understand. All I know is I’m unsure of the exact social dynamics, much less how to respond. I’m not sure what to say or do, or of my exact role. Even though I’ve spent years learning–in countless situations–about boundaries. My therapist makes sure we always talk about the boundaries of every important relationship. This helps and is very practical, but my emotional reactions are on lag-time, so I experience delayed emotional feelings about things that already happened.
Lag-time is worse, as one likely anticipates, in the case of negative experiences or trauma. To people who don’t know, it probably looks like over-reacting, but it’s all I know. It’s my left hemisphere trying to help out the right hemisphere, and it exhausts me. Not being able to control the execution of my social messages is also depressing. When I write, I feel very in control of what I say, but in-person, I’m at a loss. Gaze aversion causes me to appear avoidant, as I unsucessfully fight nervousness. When I do make eye contact, it tends to be extreme: fleeting or overly intense.
It is very hard to have an LD that impacts verbal communication. Thus it is imperative to have compassion. When conversing with someone you know has NLD, don’t act like we’re clueless, but rather ask for our thoughts. Remember that we will likely want to expand in written form later, and that our speech may be hesitant. We may not show a wide range of emotions, but we do experience them, and we are very perceptive, observant, and creative. We have diverse interests and hobbies. One person’s hobby is not everyone’s. The same goes for NLD.
Please make sure to give those with NLD the space to communicate in the ways that are best for us individually. Let us express ourselves in peaceful, comfortable ways, and much of our anxiety will begin to dissipate, creating a way for us to say what we think and feel.