My state’s vocational rehabilitation department is full of it. It’s clear that they were founded to only address very limited attributes of disabilities–namely physical mobility ones, and not the other problems that people get discriminated for having. I get treated differently due to NLD more often than I care to realize, yet there’s very little understanding of the challenges NLD creates in my life. I just met with a state vocational counselor who was completely uninsightful. It outrages me that the state funds this incompetent work, that someone with a high school education could do. The agency’s location took me an hour and fifteen minutes to reach on two buses. The counselor had no sympathetic words for my transportation struggles and didn’t even talk about this issue with me, even though it is a functional limitation and special need. I was asked if I have trouble dressing or need help from a personal attendant. I felt like saying if this was the case, would I be here by myself, but was trying to be civil. I was told that our state’s vocational rehab waiting list has about 5,000 people on it. I’m not sure why the appointment couldn’t have been done on the phone. I’m back to the drawing board with my job search. I’ll have to see what my therapist says about whether or not we should continue to work with the rehab program.
Archive for October, 2009
I did go to the funeral, even though it was really hard, even though I debated with myself about whether to attend. It went OK. It was very typical for a funeral, and seeing the old office crowd is something I have mixed feelings about. Then I spent the days after in bed with a cold, which I have only recently gotten better from. Due to the cold, I slept a lot and also obsessed about things people said at the funeral, which were really everyday comments, but NLD confuses things. I have since been in email contact with some of my old work friends, just casually chatting. It doesn’t feel that great, but I think I’ll never have real friendships with them. We met at work. They’re saying I should stop by the office sometime. Yet what would I do there? I want to be done with my math class first and know what my grade is, which won’t be until near the holidays. At that point my brother will move home from college. He generally refuses to drive me places and eats the food I buy with my own money, plus doesn’t clean up after himself. I hope I’ll be able to move out before I go crazy, but I’m in a rough spot. I’m unemployed and have no income beyond a volunteer stipend. This isn’t enough to cover living costs. I want to live alone because I feel the most comfortable, but without a job this goal is delayed.
A friend’s close relative just passed away, and I read the notice in the newspaper. I’m debating whether or not to attend the service tomorrow. We both know people who I was once in conflict with. Since then I’ve done everything I could to amend these conflicts, but it’s very awkward. This friend has taken the time to hang out with me in the meantime, but recently we’ve been out of touch. I would like to go and express my respect for the process she is experiencing, but I don’t want to exchange friction with the conflict people. I counter with the fact that it’s been a long time and I tried my best to make up. I wish one of my friends could help me translate this social situation, but I don’t have anyone except my therapist, who I can’t talk to every time once of these awkward times faces me. My gut is I’ll be welcome at the service, but I’d like inner confirmation. NLD interferes with following my heart sometimes. It’s a big challenge to constantly deal with.
Just wanted to share another anecdote about my former grad department. A few weeks ago, I got the courage to send an email expressing interest in talking about NLD. He never responded. For awhile I gave him the benefit of the doubt, but now I’m a bit angry, and my therapist says the failure to respond is “pathetic.”
Always a little frustrating to put effort into something–particularly helping others–and not even have that effort recognized. I’ll give him some benefit of the doubt–maybe he’s bad at emailing (even though he told us all to email him), maybe he forgot to write back, maybe since we never met face-to-face he’s not sure, and other reasons beyond my current imagination. Still, I very firmly feel that faculty should take interest in students’ social and scholarly development. I did something unnatural for me–reaching out, and it did not work. I’m not discouraged, just disappointed. NLD includes some disappointment, and the best thing parents, friends, et cetera can do is be helpful listeners to us as we try and sort out a visual-spatial world. More on this later.
I spent several hours on my math homework, but am almost done with it now. Then I went home, walked my dog while it was still warm, sent in my complaint letter to my former department (see below), and then did some cooking. One thing I like about NLD is it gives me more appreciation for time alone than I would probably have otherwise. I think this results in better independence skills and more patience, perhaps also better concentration and reading skills.
I am getting ready to go somewhere and do my math homework, as I don’t concentrate as well at home. Then I will get some groceries and return home for my dog’s second walk. Earlier we found a cat trying to escape the rain. My dog and the cat didn’t hit it off, but even as they argued, I remembered how much easier it is for me to deal with animals (than humans). I’ve thought of becoming a vet tech but wouldn’t want to subject the animals to my chemistry mistakes. My math class meets tomorrow night. The following class is our first test. I already understand most of the material we will be tested on, which is a miracle. Someone in the class is getting on my nerves. I understand the person’s math anxiety, but I also don’t feel qualified to help, and am sick of the nagging. Last time we met to do homework together, I found out the person hadn’t done the homework and has been absent a lot. I used to be skip school myself, so I understand the cycle, but I think I will just do homework by myself from now on. I woke up with signs of a very minor eye irritation, maybe pink eye, but just in one eye. The lid is swollen. I’ve been sleeping more lately. I’m not really sick or anything. I think NLD impacts how I experience and communicate medical symptoms and changes. I wish more doctors and nurses were understanding of NLD features. Then it would be easier to sort these problems out, but also if my parents were more involved in my life, but they’re not. If I have a problem, they usually just imply that it’s too bad for me. It got a little warmer today, which is a huge relief. I left one of my coats at my old internship and need to stop by and get it back tomorrow–an event that’s made more complicated by NLD. More later.
To my wonderful Readers,
It’s a great joy to start writing again. I didn’t disappear. I was busily attempting a grad program, but have now realized that it isn’t the right one for me.
I’m not comfortable in a social work setting, unless the whole program can be research or policy. Could someone with NLD have a social work career? Absolutely. I have no doubts, but I’d say the program must be NLD-adaptable.
Sad to report that mine was not. I remain enrolled in a statistics course at my local community college, and am pleased that it’s going pretty well. This course is based on inferential stats rather than heavy calculations; excel is saving my life.
I did the right things in communicating with my grad program. I heavily documented NLD and its effects on the number of classes I could take, and on internship work, but the department’s initial “we’ll work with you” song and dance was just that. When I needed help, it was not provided. I tried out a social work internship where it was my job to help clients find social support, kind of like being a case manager. This meant doing interviews by myself, and while I could, it definitely capitalized on my shortcomings. People say “Are you OK” to me all the time. On an individual level, I can take these comments, albeit with some annoyance. Yet social workers are expected to be relationship-builders, and I just wasn’t feeling it.
My public university department would not allow me to cut back my schedule sufficiently and gave no option except to withdraw. They also didn’t show empathy as to my inability to drive.
I’m glad to be planning new career directions now, and hope to finish some of my projects, but it’s never fun to try something and have it not work out. I’m planning to apply to some library science programs instead, and to add on a second degree or certificate to enhance my employability. I also plan to finish a certificate I started awhile ago, in paralegal studies. All are better fits than social work for me. However, if the department had supported my learning needs, I may have reached a different conclusion. Some ways a program can help a student with NLD:
-Allowing a student to take 2 courses only if the student is taking a math course (and include the math course as one of the two)
-Modifying client service internship expectations so that student has team rather than solo client contact
-Having internship director or professor in close contact with office supervisor from the get-go
-Allowing student to make up internship and/or course hours in the summers as a routine practice
My program offers many of its courses just once a year. If I could do it again, I would’ve picked a different one!