Pia Savage

Odd Girl In

Do I Have Time to Make A Difference?

I want neither my life nor my time spent learning about NLD to be wasted.

Posted Sep 01, 2016

There are things in my life I might have done much differently.

When I found out about nonverbal learning disorder (NLD) and was diagnosed with it, maybe I should have remained in New York, found people to work with, and vigorously attacked the problems adults with NLD have.

But, and there are always buts, I was at a stage in my life where people begin to move to warmer climes, and shake up their lives.

More importantly, I couldn't find professionals——this was 2007——who were willing to work with adults with NLD; or even to begin to understand the problems we have encountered through our life paths.

I had lived a full life that included many successes.

Did I want to rack up the past? I didn't realize that when I began writing about NLD I was going to be continually asked the same questions, often by the same people, over and over again. None about life in our 40's, and over, but about life in our 20's.

How do I translate my failures and successes into today's 20—30something millennial world? I'm not sure I could.

How do I explain that I never got "disability services," and was expected to navigate the world all on my own? But I had much support from family and friends, presented myself well (usually), and thrived.

Still, I wonder what I could have done to have made my life even better. 

I'm not sure how much judgment, good and bad, has played into my NLD. It's something I have been thinking about a lot lately.

Unfortunately, adult NLD hasn't been studied in depth or really at all. So how judgment comes into play is something we can only know from anecdotal evidence or by reading about children.

Decades of life experience separates me from the child who was so independent yet had a familial safety net. I hate it when people make assumptions about adults based on child studies or knowing children (and I can't tell you how many NLD moms have made those assumptions.)

I know that my judgment was good prior to 9/11 and my mother's death from a fall a month later.

Maybe those were two things that would have shook up anybody. For years "my sad season" was all summer until October 14th, the day of my mother's fall and death. Now, it's the end of August through her death day, and I'm grateful for small miracles.

A friend said that her NLD "bag of tricks" stopped working, for her professional life,  when she was in her 50's. I totally understand. 

Was it a simple "the world became more complicated," or was it something within us?

I found a job I loved, at a newspaper, but for various reasons, none doing with competency at it had to leave.  When I look back I realize that I had some amazing successes that built upon all my careers before journalism. Looking back at this makes me feel incredible.

The blog I began for fun soon after I left became a monster blog but I had no idea how to monetize it. In my defense, few people knew how then.

We didn't begin blogging because we wanted to make money, but because we loved to write, had ideas we wanted to get out, and for other reasons that seem so simplistic in this era of beginning a blog to support yourself.

Maybe I was right for leaving one of the most difficult cities in the world for anybody to live in for a simpler life. Maybe I should give myself plaudits having made it so long in New York.

I know that it's too much to ask for older adults with NLD to be studied and helped* but I hope younger adults can find both career and personal success.

I'm too close to my own life to see the successes and failures objectively.

I believe that you can have a good life with NLD though it will be harder than most people's.

And whenever you take a moment to reflect on what could have been or what didn't go right, people will tell you: "you"ll never be happy until you let go of the past."

Sometimes revisiting the past helps with the present and the future. And it's not unhappiness but pensiveness. It's important to me that I leave this world a bit better than I found it, and I pray that I do.

*Erik Erikson and Robert Butler believed that if you studied the older adult you learned all stages of a person's life.

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