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How My Nonverbal Learning Disability Affects My Coordination

Nonverbal learning disability mainly involves a visual-spatial processing deficit or challenges. Along with that, many of us with NVLD struggle with fine motor and gross motor coordination. What does that look like for me, a 27-year-old adult?

It means that ever since I was little, I have had a harder time using scissors and holding pens and pencils correctly. Writing in a straight line and coloring within the lines have never been easy for me. I also sometimes struggle with cutting my food. I have a hard time with buttons, zippers, and tying my shoes. These are things that I honestly thought I would “outgrow” as I grew up, but simply put, I haven’t. Don’t get me wrong — I have made improvements, but I still have struggles in said areas.

Then there is my gross motor coordination. I bump into walls on a daily basis. I also spill drinks on myself regularly — to the point that my friend’s mom nicknamed me “the spiller” in high school! I am not a natural at sports; long-distance running is the only one that I was ever able to become good at, and this was due to hard work and dedication. Anything involving a ball and hand-eye coordination is a hard pass for me.

Nonverbal learning disability makes other things hard too — like working memory, processing speed, math, social skills, and staying organized. Coordination challenges are just one aspect of it. It is a learning disability that is not officially in the DSM-5, but hopefully, one day it will be, as many neuropsychologists diagnose it. I belong to a Facebook group where I have interacted with many others with NVLD (or parents of children with NVLD); it has been very helpful for me to see that I am far from alone in my struggles. It has also shown me another important aspect to remember — that NVLD is a spectrum disorder. It affects each person differently. One person may struggle with their social skills more while another is more profoundly affected by challenges with math and visual-spatial processing.

The best thing about finding out I have NVLD as an adult isn’t just having a name to why I bump into walls on a daily basis — it’s been finding community.

If you have NVLD, I hope you’ll join my Mighty group here.

Getty image by Cunaplus M Faba.

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