The time has come when I’m inspired to write my next post following on from mental health, about how the world is driven by being social beings that judgements of character are mostly made on the friendships we hold, where we go and things we do in this social world. I have focussed on much of how my experiences affected me as a child, but now I want to talk about me, now and how as a 26 year old young woman, the world can be such a scary and confusing place.
I have explored previously in this blog the co-ordination and balance difficulties that present with having Dyspraxia. I can deal with this and learn to compensate very well for these, however the area I find most challenging is how much I struggle socially. I see what people are up to on Facebook, and sometimes wish that I was more like them and that one day I’d learn to find it easier. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m probably a little bit jealous.
As well as Dyspraxia and Nystagmus, I have another diagnosis; Non Verbal Learning Difficulty or NVLD, even more unheard of than Dyspraxia, most people who know something about Dyspraxia assume that its related to coordination and not being able to catch a ball or tie your shoe laces, but as I have explored in this blog, Dyspraxia encompass far more than that. However NVLD doesn’t come with the preconceptions that Dyspraxia does, very few people have ever heard of NVLD before. It has absolutely nothing to do with intelligence but effects social communication, specifically interpreting and understanding non verbal cues. Many people with NVLD are identified as being bright as young children developing a wide vocabulary and reading ability, good verbal skills and an excellent memory. I know that my ability to remember small events or word for word a conversation that I had years ago is slightly unusual, I often recount events and wonder why it’s only me who remembers the small details that everyone else has seemed to forgotten. NVLD can make you very hardworking, constantly striving to achieve goals and incredibly honest. A condition diagnosed when I was 11 by an educational psychologist. I don’t really understand it myself, except that it impacts on my ability to maintain and form friendships, and makes social situations exceptionally challenging. It also affects my organisation in these situations, I often have to plan and prepare myself way beyond what most people believe is necessary to do. If you’ve ever tried to leave the house with me you’ll know that it seems to take forever.There is very little written about NVLD or any organisation dedicated to raising awareness of the condition, making it almost impossible to explain to others and even accept myself. I think a good way to look at NVLD for an outsider is somewhere on the autistic spectrum, however I am not autistic. My brain has to work harder than everyone else to process the information and to send the messages to enable me to react in social situations. This whole process makes me incredibly tired and I often come home exhausted. I have no idea where my Dyspraxia ends and NVLD begins because in many ways they are so similar.
I’m someone who thrives off having friends and really value the friends I do have, probably more than my friends realise. This is partly because I missed out on having many friends at school and having that interaction that our society is very driven by. I don’t like my own company, but sometimes I’m often seen opting to be alone because the social interaction involved becomes quite overwhelming. My NVLD makes it very difficult for me to express myself, I constantly have thoughts going round in my head but find it very difficult to get my points across or to find the words to say what I’ve wanted to say for ages. However I am very good at expressing myself in writing, which is one of the reasons why I’m writing this blog- Its just the spontaneous spoken word that I find extremely difficult and stressful. When I eventually become completely comfortable with someone, expressing myself verbally becomes easier but explaining why I found it so difficult in the first place remains an almost impossible task.
I have big ideas about where I would like to be in the future, probably very different to most 26 year old women, I want to strive towards being more comfortable socially, to accept and understand my NVLD just like I have my Dyspraxia and to learn to explain myself more openly and confidently. I am still trying to find my place in society, where I have a sense of belonging. The one welcoming environment has been music, particularly the folk scene. It is the one place I have felt comfortable being me, respected and free from being judged. However I still feel that I need to find a way to fit into this inclusive world better that I feel so much a part of. I honestly don’t think I’d be where I am now if I hadn’t discovered music when I did. It definitely filled in the missing piece of the jigsaw that had been lost for years.
I started this blog to raise awareness of the challenges associated with my many complex neurological conditions, to bring attention to how it can affect people physically and emotionally. I also hoped to identify the positive affects of my conditions and how these traits of thinking a little bit differently can benefit the world and those around me.Those that know me personally I hope that this hasn’t come as much of a surprise to you- because I’m still me. I do however hope it helps you understand me better. I have felt so listened to and respected during the course of these blogs so far. The conversations it has generated were way beyond my expectations. So valuable and empowering. Thank you.