NLD and Anxiety about Meals

March 28, 2011

I have some kind of swallowing disorder, where I must drink lots of fluids or food gets stuck in my throat. This is one of many things that makes me nervous about meals. I’m also embarrassed by all the foods I can’t stand. I’m just about as picky, as I’ve said elsewhere here, as a young child, which doesn’t help my social relating. Plus, I can’t eat and talk at the same time. So a normal activity most people relax doing is very hard for many with NLD. I know it’s not the same for everyone, but with socially inept parents and other relatives, that’s how it turned out for me.

Also, I love my readers. Thank you to everyone who reads this blog, and I look forward to more discussions soon.

NLD, Speech, and Physical Issues

March 17, 2011

My speech problems have a lot to do with prosody.  I find phrasing very difficult–there’s lots of starting and stopping.  So I sound choppy.  I have halting speech, which I tell people about.  This problem was unnoticed for many years.  I suffered for this reason, and am now in speech therapy.  Jaw tension and other issues make it hard for me to say complex phrases.  Just saying words can be hard.  When put together with concepts, I sometimes freeze up.  My thoughts interrupt each other, and suddenly, it’s a traffic jam or trainwreck.  Then I start mispronouncing words.  I don’t get out the thoughts I want, and sometimes my voice quivers.  Sometimes it nearly hurts to talk.  Just saying words takes great effort.  When I’ve talked at length, my throat hurts.  I sit in speech therapy wondering if Botox would help my voice, or if a surgery could help, and then I start wanting to cry because it’s such a burden having a speech disorder.  I still don’t fully know how to deal with it.

NLD, Spatial Confusion, Stress, Anguish

March 17, 2011

My high school over-valued sports.  If someone wasn’t good at competitive sports, they didn’t matter.  Kids with coordination troubles were made fun of K-12, which is one reason I eventually dropped out.  Even going to a gym can be a tough experience.  I didn’t grow up playing sports.  My university’s sports complex was a very daunting place for me, a non-athlete, to visit.  The different facilities’ varying hours really confused me, as did finding them.  I felt stupid as I walked around trying to follow the signs.  It was one of those times when a simple task was made near-impossible because of NLD.  I was already stressed–I take on too much–so I couldn’t totally focus.  I just really wanted to try working out.  It’s spring, and I need the stress relief, but I had the distinct sense I didn’t fit into the gym setting.  I want to return, but need to get over my embarrassment first.

I’ll return at a different time in the hopes of not seeing the same staff.  I felt embarrassed in the locker room, and very self-conscious, like a teenager.  A health club would be a little easier, but I have to do what’s within my student budget.  I felt so embarrassed getting lost.  I wish people wouldn’t act like it was dumb to get lost.  Visual-spatial disorientation is a truly hard thing.  We aren’t ignoring our surroundings.  We just see things differently.  It’s so hard having NLD.  I wish people would have compassion.  In this case, no one reacted in mean ways, but I just felt so alone.  I was the only confused one in a place where everyone else was so comfortable.  I wanted to go somewhere and cry, I was so stressed out, but I really wanted to get some exercise.  However, I have to return when the rooms are open.  It was hard just going into the gym building.  With no logic, I thought, if I can get here, I can exercise, but it was not the case today.  Another day, hopefully, it will be, and I won’t feel so overwhelmed by NLD, and people’s reactions to it.  Oh my goodness.

I sometimes think people’s reactions are harder to deal with than NLD.  When home, I still have visual-spatial confusion (i.e., not seeing things right in front of me, forgetting where I put something, trouble getting everything together before I leave, trouble fitting everything in my bags, et cetera), but nowhere near the stress I feel when out advocating for myself.

Templates

March 13, 2011

In learning new concepts, we often do well with access to templates. Sometimes we have creative ideas that we must adapt to new situations. Templates can set us on the right path, and make up for some of our visual-spatial challenges. For instance, when my classes assign papers and give us successful samples to read, I feel much more confident about completing the paper.

If they do not provide this (or a similar) resource, then I feel lost, anxious, and disoriented. Literally lost. I ask professors to please provide sample topics, but many do not want to. Maybe they think we can envision them ourselves, but I have trouble adapting my ideas to their requirements, unless they explain what they want to see. Then we’re, to use a cliché, on the same page.

Too often, way, way too often, we with NLD are deprived of same-page access. People don’t bother to explain in NLD-sensitive ways—ways that take into account our intelligence, and the many ways our observations lend strength (i.e., we are often creative, caring, sensitive, musical, research-savvy, capable of writing great things, et cetera). And ways that anticipate the anxiety we go through when assigned verbal presentations.

Will someone please just give us a template? Are they afraid we’ll copy it? They should know we’re awful liars. The lies show up in our expressions, and we learn not to lie or misrepresent very early on.

Sometimes we’ve endured excessive discipline and put-downs. In fact, I’d say it’s more common than not, and this needs to change, too.

I spend so much time tracking down templates, because I just plain don’t know enough about what people want (v. what I guess they want). Many people don’t ask because of shyness and/or being able to picture enough about the task to get by.

What about those whose visual-spatial struggles require more explanation—what of that in education? We sometimes need points of access to shape the beautiful, important, powerful ideas we deserve to express.

Please help us do this in positive ways, and listen to the needs we have. We can’t help our visual-spatial struggles, but our experiences learning can improve with these resources.

The Isolation of Abuse

March 12, 2011

I recently watched “The Narrow Bridge,” a film about a young man’s gradual decision to talk about the abuse he experienced as a child in a spiritual community.  The acting and writing are basic, but it’s still a good, important story.  This isn’t NLD-related, except insofar as the fact that people with learning differences are at special risk for abuse, and abuse is all too common.  So I post these links, in part because the music’s so beautiful, in part to help people understand these occurrences and what they do to someone even years later.  PTSD has incredibly long lives.  Also, I always make sure all links and blog content are appropriate for virtually all age groups (PG).  So even though I discuss some experiences in adult life, I maintain PG-related topic treatment.

“Time After Time”

March 12, 2011

Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time”:

Frustrations with Family Members

March 12, 2011

I have a socially challenged family. Awkward social antics are commonplace. I was not taught proper social behavior. If we were together for dinner, my family read at the dinner table. Thus, I didn’t learn how to have conversations. So my family is horribly insensitive to my NLD struggles. They basically don’t realize what NLD does, how it makes me more exhausted, how I need help understanding some of the visual-spatial problems, et cetera. I guess they’re not capable of these skills, but I still feel angry, as I didn’t get the social coaching any kid needs, but someone with NLD more than requires.

These days I attend speech therapy, even though it’s a long commute, and I just plain can’t do all the things I’m supposed to work on. Progress is painfully slow. Often, my family’s been most of my social exposure, but many of the examples they’ve set have been confusing or counterproductive, let alone insensitive to my special, NLD-related problems. So many times, I just feel more stressed at family events. You see, my family doesn’t act much like a family, and not towards me. Friends are quite unusual, even though I’m open to making more. And a dating relationship–despite being thickly in the age when marriages are expected–feels obsolete.

As a family friend recently said, “you’re a beautiful young woman–you don’t have a boyfriend,” and I had to say no. Men don’t really acknowledge me. They may comment on my appearance, but don’t really try to know me. Luckily I’m very comfortable being single–much as a single young woman can be in our pressured times–but every holiday, I feel sad, as I know couples are planning romantic dinners, where they will celebrate their relationships. I’m glad for them, but sad for me. Year after year, I see the same thing again–me the wallflower on the side, writing about people instead of relating to them, a little like Emily Dickinson, wars in books, metaphors I play with. It’s easy to feel, in our impersonal times, that people around me don’t care, at least not in the ways I need, and don’t consider knowing me.

Day after day, I suffer from seeing the social realms other people experience. And so I feel stuck. If I could do some things again, I’d attend a smaller college where I could more easily make friends. I would also pick a major with more communication requirements. And I would never have stopped my musical activities. My family is unable to, or won’t, provide the social support I need. So I wallow in hope and despair.

In Praise of Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way”

March 12, 2011

Thank you, Lady Gaga, for discussing disabilities in “Born This Way.”

NLD and Disappointment in Social Settings

March 12, 2011

I wish more people understood what it’s like to have our visual-spatial struggles. We get confused about specific things, despite having continuity in our thoughts. I am so confident as a writer, but when I talk to people, I feel like a car in traffic.

I feel awkward, my speech stumbles, I don’t know what to say, or can’t say what I want to, and my speech starts and stops.

My facial expressions only convey 10% of the emotions I feel. I watch people on TV with animated expressions and wish I could be them. But instead, my voice struggles to sound semi-normal, in good situations. And my face only lights up when I’m laughing. Try as I might, my eyes don’t sparkle. Subtle gestures hardly happen.

Even worse, perhaps, are times when my expressions don’t match my emotions. Sometimes, for instance, when someone says something shocking, an involuntary smile ends up on my face. I might laugh at inappropriate times by accident, or I may interrupt without meaning to.

For these (and other) reasons, I don’t accomplish all of the social goals I have. I’m a wallflower. I don’t have weekend engagements outside of an occasional meet-ups with long-known family and friends, whose company I sometimes appreciate, but I also don’t get much emotional support or validation from them. Thus, my social company is the same people over and over. The calls or emails I hope for rarely happen, meaning the people I really want to hear from don’t contact me, or hold back from being close, or drift away.

In other posts I talk about being dumped by friends. Because I, and many other people with NLD, are kind, caring, and sensitive–all awesome qualities in friends–I feel very disappointed and anguished by the lack of social recognition I get.

Plus females are expected to be vivacious, sparkling social connectors. These things just aren’t me. The ways I express myself are different, and so is how I learn.

A related problem is when people do pay attention to us, but it’s the wrong kind. I’ve had so many people regard me in insulting, patronizing ways. They’ve treated me like I have less intelligence than I really do.

Lending the benefit of the doubt, I could say maybe NLD causes them to feel awkward and not know what to do, which I get, but I ask people to give us a chance, see what we know and can do, and get to know us.

We can be loyal, helpful, insightful friends, and many times we really want to relate and be included. However, if people don’t include us, they’ll never know how wonderful we are, and we might struggle to believe in ourselves and our relationships. Such a state doesn’t bode well for anyone. So, please look within. Thanks.

Don’t Pass Us By: NLD and People Not Getting to Know Us

March 10, 2011

So many times, I’ve felt like I was in the Lionel Richie video of the song “Hello.” In terms of being different and standing out, I relate to the blind young woman. And because I don’t feel like I can successfully express all my thoughts, I feel like the man narrating the song, who wants to know someone, but doesn’t know how to describe these thoughts.

In my case, my thoughts are well-organized in my writing and mentally, but saying them is a horrible challenge. I only say 5-20% of what I want to, and this is involuntary. As a kid, when I didn’t want to talk to someone, I’d pretend to be mute. Now that I have help with speech and counseling, I know I can’t trust all my reactions. I ask myself, what do I not know; what am I not picking up on that I should be, and why won’t my face and gestures match the feelings I have inside? Put simply, the inside and outside don’t match.

Another complicating factor is this: many times other people just pass me by. They don’t try to know me. If they do, usually it’s not the people I’m intrigued by–or want to know—who take interest in me. Instead, I get stuck talking to people I don’t want to talk to. Time after time, I feel disappointed because the only calls or emails I get are from my socially-challenged family, not from the friends (or people I hope to be friends with) I so want to hear from. Each day I feel lonely, and that writing and music are my only outlets.

Being alone is different from depression, which I used to struggle with profoundly, but now I love life, and trust I will, slowly, meet people, but how is the question. And through all this, I know too that my safety is nothing to play around with, so sometimes I avoid connecting for that reason. Elsewhere I blog about situations where I didn’t trust my gut, and was taken advantage of in many different ways, ranging from manipulation to abuse.

So, I guess I’m saying I hear all who have written to me about similar struggles. I have them daily, too. Perhaps we can campaign for writing’s usefulness, and encourage our friends to communicate with us in emails. Yet, we also need those phone calls and Saturday night dates. Like everyone, as people, we need to be included, welcomed, and given chances to express ourselves peacefully. We so deserve, in short, to be heard.