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Posts Tagged ‘nonverbal learning disability’

“”Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”

I don’t like the seniors’ class motto. Walking next to me is not a friendly act. People do it so we can have a conversation, certainly. But if we’re out in public, I’m trying not to get lost. I don’t have the mental bandwidth to navigate and talk to someone at the same time.

Even worse, people who want to walk beside me often insist on walking on my left-hand side. I don’t notice a lot of things on my left. What they experience as “not looking me in the eye” or “not being friendly,” I experience as “someone’s sneaking up on me.”

When I see the senior class motto on its felt banner at school assemblies, I know I’m being silly. My mother’s voice chides me in my head: “You have NLD and are being literal. It’s not talking about actually leading or following, or walking next to people. It’s a metaphor.” I know it’s a metaphor. That’s why it bothers me.
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My teacher says that writing too much is a good problem to have. “Most people,” she tells me, “have to flesh out their ideas. That’s much harder than having to cut things out.” She doesn’t understand why I can’t just do it, and I, at fourteen, am no help. It will be years before I go to conferences and see other people with my diagnosis freeze when asked to summarize things. It will be even longer before I realize what my having a “good problem” really means.
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“Nearly everybody expected spectacular things from Tom Riddle, prefect, Head Boy, winner of the Award for Special Services to the School. …The next thing the staff knew, Voldemort was working at Borgin and Burkes.” –Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince p.430-1

A picture of Lord Voldemort
How do you get a job in a store that sells magical artifacts? Ask the owner, “How much for Kirby’s Adventure?

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Blanka and Zangrief on a showy, Las Vegas-like stage. Blanka is crouched down, while Zangrief is standing upright.

I see a lot of things slowly. I sometimes have to consciously work out what things are, and I miss many things in my environment simply because I don’t have enough time to notice them: people on bicycles, for instance, or something I’m looking for on a shelf, or vacuum hoses. (“What’s that thing–a snake? No, it’s too big to be in anything but the rain forest. And it’s not moving”). While needing time to process what I’m looking at is more of a problem in real space than when looking at a screen, I’ve found a tool that helps me learn Street Fighter II skills by slowing the game down to something that’s more my speed.

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Blanka and Zangrief on a showy, Las Vegas-like stage. Blanka is crouched down, while Zangrief is standing upright.

I see a lot of things slowly. I sometimes have to consciously work out what things are, and I miss many things in my environment simply because I don’t have enough time to notice them: people on bicycles, for instance, or something I’m looking for on a shelf, or vacuum hoses. (“What’s that thing–a snake? No, it’s too big to be in anything but the rain forest. And it’s not moving”). While needing time to process what I’m looking at is more of a problem in real space than when looking at a screen, I’ve found a tool that helps me learn Street Fighter II skills by slowing the game down to something that’s more my speed.

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PWN! in big blue letters

I’ve been playing The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for forever–well, sort of. I got stuck and put the game down for a while, maybe a couple of months. But when I picked Phantom Hourglass back up again, I couldn’t get unstuck. And I didn’t even know why I was stuck in the first place.

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I used to be scared of The Legend of Zelda. It was the kind of delicious terror that you feel when you cover your eyes during a scary movie and peek through your fingers. There were no walls; I could go in any direction, but there were no signs to tell me which to take. (The original Mega Man had the same effect on me, but in a different way). Without the tunnel vision of Super Mario Bros., I tread carefully up a river, across a bridge and into a tree. “I found the first level!” I thought, reading the upper-right corner of the screen. And then, “Wait a minute. I don’t find things.”

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