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What It's Like Trying to Express Your Needs With a Nonverbal Learning Disability


Having a nonverbal learning disability (NVLD) can often lead one to experience several challenges, one of the more common ones is expressing your feelings and needs. Sometimes this is due to not wanting others to know you have a disability, and other times it’s because of the high level of anxiety you experience wondering what others will think of you. Personally this was something that occurred often for me, and as a result it led to some hard situations.

I struggled expressing my feelings even in a small setting. For example, in speech therapy I often had  major self-esteem issues. By being there everyone would know I had a disability and what would they think? I just kept everything to myself and eventually things became worse. I had major frustrations and became somewhat disrespectful. It was certainly foolish of me to hide my feelings as my speech therapist, who was a super caring and supportive person, would have helped me work through this if I had just brought it up (after all, we were there to work on communication skills). Things were the same way in resource room; I kept it all inside and when people offered to give me extra support I became so angry. I just couldn’t find a way to open up. During cross-country I didn’t know how to tell my coach that due to my disability, I had low muscle tone and that my medication made me sensitive to heat. So when he saw me run at a slow pace and have to stop often when it was hot, he didn’t know if I belonged on the team. Nothing seemed to be working for me and I was becoming more and more frustrated.

Thankfully, one day I just had a meltdown and let all of my feelings come out; what a relief this was, I felt so much better. Those around me now understood me better and were able to support me. And moving forward I was more willing to talk about my frustrations when I had them, which allowed me to really see how hard I actually work and how much I can accomplish. Little did I know how big this day was for my future. I now started to learn that it was critical to my success to be able to talk to those around me about how I was feeling, and what I needed so I could keep the focus on the tasks at hand.

Now in adulthood I am much more open and honest about my feelings and expressing my needs. I now understand holding them inside just makes it worse. I have stronger relationships as those around me now better understand me and can give me the necessary support. This is certainly not easy, but in the long run it will allow you to find happiness and boost your self-worth. Always remember everyone has their own weaknesses, but expressing your feelings and your needs will lead you to finding success in life.

A group of women at an apraxia event

Photo submitted by contributor.