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Posts Tagged ‘nonverbal learning disability’

In our town, there’s a bus for elderly and disabled people. It picks you up at your house, takes you grocery shopping, to doctors’ appointments, to anything within its range. On the one hand, I’m very excited; I would love to do more things by myself. On the other, I’m very nervous, because the bus is a new thing to me and I don’t really know how to use it. I’d need someone to come with me until I got the hang of it, someone who knows how my impairments work. My mother is usually the best assistant for things like this.

But she says, “A bus driver molested a little girl who was deaf ten years ago.”

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When I was 17, I made a website I did it because, at the time, a lot of information about my diagnosis was in jargon-filled textbooks for neuropsychologists. Parsing it all really sucks–especially when you’re, like, 14 years old–and I wanted to explain some of this information in clearer language. I also wanted to explain exactly what my skillset is. (For some reason, people in my real life are totally stymied by it, and I don’t know why. It’s always made perfect sense to me). But more than that, I wanted a space where other people with this diagnosis and their families could find each other. I wanted to meet people like me.

A lot of people stopped by. I learned how silly it was to expect people with my diagnosis to be “like me” and I made a ton of friends. I enjoyed meeting other NLDers and their parents. But slowly, very slowly, some of the comments I got started to weird me out:

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Do you want to go with me to see Hostel? runs the tape inside my head. Do you want to go with me to see Hostel? Do you want to go with me to see Hostel? When my cousin answers the phone–“Hello?”–the words spill out my mouth.

“When?” she says.

Click, click, click, goes my tape. “Uhhh.”

“Do you want to look at the newspaper and call me back?”

“Okay.”

I call back and dutifully recite the showtimes. “Okay, so what time?” she asks.

“Uhhh.”

Her husband is annoyed with us, but she presses ahead. “How about Friday at one? We can have lunch at Culver’s beforehand.”

And I say: “Yeah.”
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"My freedom ends where your safety begins."
                                               --how a teacher explained freedom of speech in 7th grade

I’m a big believer in safe spaces. Having to navigate somewhere that isn’t my house takes a lot of effort; I only noticed just how much effort once I left school and stopped having to spend 6 hours a day in a strange-to-me place. But I’ve always felt most comfortable in my house–my bedroom, especially. Maybe that’s why I like stories about people trying to protect their homes from outsiders.

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There are three places around town that I can walk to by myself: the Target, the dentist and the local library. (Okay, there’s a Pizza Hut on the way to Target, but since starting my diet lifestyle change I don’t go there).

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“Is that your bad arm?”

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And He Who Walks Behind the Rows did say, “I will send Outlanders amongst you…and these Outlanders will be unbelievers and profaners of the holy.”
–Isaac (John Franklin), Children of the Corn

All right, go ahead and sacrifice me to your respective vegetable-god. I like Children of the Corn.

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When I was seven years old, I was in love with, and terrified by, a movie called Dolls. Its director, Stuart Gordon, was famous for his film adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories–including the cult classic The Re-Animator, which would’ve made Lovecraft himself projectile-vomit–and would later switch gears entirely with Disney’s Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. In Dolls, these career paths converge: it’s as magical as Peter Pan and as violent as Friday the 13th.

What does some movie about angry dolls have to do with Nancy Russell Burger’s book about raising an NLD child? Dolls isn’t a terrible film, but it doesn’t fit its own format very well–it’s too childish for grownups, and too gory for kids. And A Special Kind of Brain isn’t a bad book by any means. But it’s neither the “how to parent an NLDer” book it claims to be, nor the memoir it probably should’ve been.

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“Hey, do y’all have the new Super Smash Bros.?”

I can’t believe I’m asking this question. Fighting games aren’t exactly my favorite videogame genre. Sure, I fiddle with them sometimes—at 12, I rented Mortal Kombat II at the video store because “Hey! It’s the game Congress hates!”—but they aren’t much fun to play if you don’t have real people to fight. (All my friends are mature, responsible adults who’d rather go out drinking at the bar than play some videogame). So I wouldn’t pay $50 for a fighting game, and I sure as heck wouldn’t show up excitedly at Target on release date.

I hadn’t.

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