Sunday, February 25, 2018


In December of 2016, I was diagnosed with a non-verbal learning disability (NVLD). When I read about the symptoms, a lot of my behaviors started to make a lot of sense. NVLD presents a lot like Asperger's (in fact when I first did my testing, it was to see if I was on the spectrum). However, they are not the same disorder. According to, "there’s a lot of overlap between Asperger’s syndrome and NVLD. Many experts consider them to be separate conditions that look a lot alike. Studies indicate that most children who meet the criteria for Asperger’s also meet the criteria for NVLD. But the opposite of that doesn’t appear to be true. Many children with NVLD don’t meet the criteria for Asperger’s." So, how does NVLD manifest for me? Let's take a look...

  • Anxious in social situations. 
  • A tendency to “over-share” private information, or continue talking even when social cues indicate the conversation is unwanted. 
  • Difficulty understanding the rules of games. 
  • Concrete thinking; taking things very literally. Has trouble telling when someone is joking, when someone is mad or just in a bad mood. 
  • Trouble with nonverbal communication, like body language, facial expression, and tone of voice. 
  • Difficulty comprehending unsaid information or drawing reasonable conclusions without being told directly. 
  • Fear of new situations. 
  • Asks too many questions; disrupts the flow of conversation or interrupts frequently.
Daily Living
  • Has difficulty coping with changes in routine. 
  • Pronounced difficulty in adapting to new or complex situations. 
  • May be very na├»ve and lack common sense. 
  • Anxiety, depression, low self-esteem. 
  • May develop an inflexible routine for waking up, going to the store, or other common tasks, becoming upset if the routine is interrupted. 
  • Trouble dealing with change or unexpected setbacks, like a traffic jam. 
  • Sensual sensitivity (for me it's sensitivity to loud sounds and certain food textures). 
  • Gets lost easily. 
  • Trouble telling left from right. 
  • Taken from an NVLD blog, "I have excellent working memory and long-term memory. I can remember what I wore on the first day of kindergarten, things that were said years ago, and lines from books, movies, and songs. But because of NVLD, I often have trouble planning out events, gatherings or appointments in my head. That includes planning how to get to unfamiliar places. I tend to get lost frequently, even when I’m using my smartphone to guide me. I’ve realized I can organize and execute a plan if I write things down, whether it’s on my digital or paper calendar. Writing things down helps me see what I need to do spelled out in words, which is one of my strengths. And it’s part of why I always manage to get where I’m going, and remember meetings and appointments." 
  • Easily irritable. 
Learning & Academics
  • Attention to detail, but misses the big picture. 
  • Trouble understanding reading. 
  • Difficulty with math, especially word problems. 
  • Poor abstract reasoning. 
  • Messy and laborious handwriting. 
  • Trouble following multi-step directions. 
  • When writing, trouble organizing thoughts or getting to the point. 
  • Visual-spatial planning difficulties. 
  • Trouble reading maps. 
  • Many people with NLD are very good at rote learning, and they are able to do well in math just by memorizing data. But as they get older they struggle to solve more advanced mathematical problems that are based on recognizing concepts and patterns. 
  • Poor abstract reasoning. 
  • Confuses abstract concepts yet can recall sequences. 
As you can imagine, there are traits of my other two disorders (BPD and GAD that overlap with NVLD, or amplify some of the NVLD traits). Such as;

  • Difficulty handling uncertainty. 
  • The anxiety, worry or physical symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning. 
  • Overthinking plans and solutions to all possible worst-case outcomes. 
  • Inability to relax, feeling restless, and feeling keyed up or on edge. 
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights). 
  • Black and white thinking. 
  • Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self. 
  • Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days). 
As you can imagine, dealing with all of this is hard. And if you don't deal with it yourself, it may be difficult to understand why I act the way I do sometimes. It's also difficult to understand how it effects me. For example;
  • My anxiety, panic, paranoia can lead to days of depression. 
  • I still struggle with anger outbursts. Especially online. 
  • I feel ashamed of myself often. 
  • I struggle sometimes with expressing my thoughts in writing and can become easily irritated if people misunderstand me, or taking something I say the wrong way.
I hope this has helped some people understand me a little bit better.

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