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Comedian Chris Rock Shares Nonverbal Learning Disorder Diagnosis

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What happened: In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter (THR), comedian Chris Rock shared that he has been diagnosed with nonverbal learning disorder (NVLD), a disability that makes it difficult to pick up on nonverbal communication cues. Rock told THR that he underwent nine hours of cognitive tests after his friend suggested that he may be on the autism spectrum, which led to his NVLD diagnosis. Rock described how he struggles with nonverbal signs, which led to him misunderstanding people’s reactions.

All I understand are the words. By the way, all of those things are really great for writing jokes — they’re just not great for one-on-one relationships. — Chris Rock

The Frontlines: Nonverbal learning disorder, or nonverbal learning disability, is a neurological condition that may cause people to have problems with executive function, higher-order information processing and social skills that makes it difficult to interpret typical nonverbal communication signs.

People with NVLD may struggle with some of the following skills that relate to organization, attention, executive functioning, nonverbal communication and motor skills, according to the NVLD Project.

  • Spatial awareness (bumping into people and things)
  • Organization and planning
  • Activities that require multitasking
  • Staying focused
  • Recalling visual information
  • Peer relationships
  • Reading typical social cues

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A Mighty Voice: Contributor Toren Hynes, who is also on the spectrum, wrote about their experience living with NVLD and why they thinks recognizing NVLD as a diagnosis is important. “In fact, the more I think about it, I believe that my social difficulties are caused by my slow speed of visual processing. I can understand auditory nonverbal cues fairly well, such as the tone of a person’s voice, but I have a hard time when it comes to reading somebody’s facial cues, and as for recognizing people by their faces…forget it.” You can submit your first-person story, too.

From Our Community:

My story in short with isolation #Isolation #nvld #BipolarDisorder

Other Things to Know: As with many learning disabilities, there are many misconceptions about what people who have NVLD are like or what they can do. You can read first-hand stories of people who have NVLD below:

How to Take Action: You can read the full article on Chris Rock, in which he also talks about his experience going to therapy seven hours a week, on THR’s website.

Image via Andy Witchger/Wikimedia Commons

Originally published: September 18, 2020
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