When I was diagnosed with nonverbal learning disorder in 2010 I didn’t question the decision. After a long time of the classic NLD-workhistory, I was half way through a 2 year work rehabilitation program. They didn’t exactly understand NLD because it was clear that my interests were of an academic nature, but they kept pushing me towards factory work. I tried my best, but failed because the jobs required the skills I didn’t have. I had completed 11 semesters in college after all. I was a very motivated student because I didn’t want to become my father. He lived long before any diagnose, but I believe his difficulties were so big and many that he really didn’t have a chance.
I had accomplished that by having an extreme focus on memorizing. I studied hard every night. Nothing else mattered. I was literally on a mission, but this victory turned to a major defeat when I ended up in a sheltered workshop. After trying and failing in several practical jobs (conveyor belt production, secretary, driver for a bakery, journalist) during those two years of “help”, they suggested that I tried delivering junk mail (this is something some people do for a little extra income at night because it doesn’t pay enough for you to live on). That was at the end of a two year program when I was on my own again.
I decided to go back to teaching, but that was a mistake. After another 2,5 years of misery I have come to the painful conclusion that I’ll never teach again. The diagnose NLD explains a great deal of the experiences I have made since early childhood, but it also leaves me with some unanswered questions. The problem is that NLD is regarded more as a symptom than a diagnose, so there’s no help to get. Many aspies (80 % of them in fact) also have NLD, but so far no one has bothered doing similar research on NLDers. When I read the characteristics for NLD and asberger, for example on NLD on the Web, I get confused. Why are NLDers left to manage on their own when we have the same experiences? Life is difficult for aspies too of course, but having a diagnose that is official and accepted is probably helpful.
I’m back in work rehabilitation now. I have completed 4 of the 12 weeks they are forcing me through. The idea is to observe me work, so that they know what I can and can’t do. They still don’t understand. If I just expose myself to the situations I find difficult, everything will be hunky-dory. They know from my experiences in a different sheltered workshop that I still at the age of 46 struggle with social skills, I am a slow learner, I have no interest or skills in the type of industrial jobs these sheltered workshops offer. I have poor coordination. These are some of the difficulties I have. This is old news, but I guess these nutters at the workshop want me to continue the behaviour I haven’t managed to learn in almost half a century. I guess it’s about learning to deal with challenges, instead of avoiding them. I am still not sure this is helpful. I haven’t failed to keep a job because I have avoided the challenges. On the contrary, I have really been on the offense.
I am constantly learning more about my disorder and I take responsibility for my diagnose. I always try to be the best NLDer I can possibly be. But it gets on my nerves when the nutters at the factory express a philosophy where being employed, no matter what type of job it is, will cure me. They think they are making depression and anxiety go away because I’m so grateful someone is willing to let me do something I hate. It’s a bit depressing knowing that I may have to settle for crumbs. This is why I worked hard to achieve an education that, to be honest, was outside my reach, but I guess I should give them a chance.
Maybe I can do something I hate if it helps me do something I passionately love when I come home, which is writing.
To be continued, I suppose.