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Student shares experience with ADD and a NVLD

I am constantly challenged by attention deficit disorder and a nonverbal learning disorder. ADD explains why I am easily distracted, appear to not listen or don’t always think before I act. I focus most when interacting with people like my parents, teachers or customers at my job to “appear normal,” which takes a lot of energy. I fear doing so 24/7 would turn me into a robot. NVLDs affects motor skills (I’m very poor at sports) visual-spatial-organization, social skills (I don’t always perceive nonverbal cues), and sensory skills. With a NVLD I excel at reading and writing and have keen sense of detail, which has not hindered me in language arts (a tutor helped with math). When diagnosed at 16, I learned I have a deficiency in working memory. I have always had many thoughts cycloning in my brain, all wanting attention. Writing helps because it allows me to ponder my thoughts rather than worry about pegging them to my working memory’s watery skin.

ADD and a NVLD are not excuses, but explain why I tend toward certain behaviors. At certain points in my life it has been painful to deal with conforming or learning from mistakes because I did not comprehend repercussions. I’m not exactly sure why I got diagnosed late. Perhaps because although teachers have remarked over the years that I have trouble following directions and paying attention or sometimes say odd things, my ADD isn’t severe. Perhaps because my brother, who is bipolar and has ADD with hyperactivity, has required much of my parents’ support over the years. Two children “with issues” would have been too much to handle. My sister became involved with drugs and alcohol when I was 8 (she has since recovered) and for some years afterward had to go to rehab. I feel that ordeal was also a lot for my parents to deal with. My parents are very supportive and have offered to let me go on medication. I don’t desire medication because it altered my brother’s personality and I do not want to lose who I am. Therapy helps, though I need to get to know the therapist to feel comfortable. I have not always felt comfortable being myself around my parents so I have learned to “act normal” around them.

That my family has experienced upheaval is not surprising, nor is it an excuse for not having dealt with ADD and a NVLD until 16. Like everyone, I am trying to figure myself out and the world around me; there is much to learn. Although at times out of shame I desire to melt into the wall and watch the world from a fixed vantage. I want to embrace what I have to deal with. I cannot let a genetic trait or mutation run my life. It is so important to reach out, something I am truly beginning to learn.