Sunday, April 27, 2008
Why write a novel about NLD?
Non-verbal learning disorder or NLD is a particularly poignant condition. Often misdiagnosed as Asperger’s Syndrome (high-functioning autism) or Savant Syndrome (a developmental handicap accompanied by extraordinary mental abilities in one or more fields), children with NLD typically excel in early speech and vocabulary development, and display a remarkable memory for things that interest them. Like the Aspie child, Olivia Bean in INSIDE OUT GIRL is capable of discussing the elimination habits of the Norway rat long after you’ve thrown out the dinner you no longer have the desire to eat!
Just like Aspie’s, kids with NLD tend to fall short with social, motor and visual-spatial skills. The subtlety of language eludes them. The subtlety of social innuendo eludes them. They tend to be the kids in 7th grade who show up wearing sweatpants pulled up to their armpits and the musty woolen liners of their winter boots—social suicide in middle grade. The other kids often pick on them and they can fall prey to relentless bullying.
And here lies the poignancy of NLD. Aspies tend to exist within their own isolated social bubble, uninterested in connecting with other children. Not so with the NLDer. The child with NLD—so sweet and naïve—typically wants to be loved, wants to be accepted. Every snub in the playground wounds them to the core. Olivia Bean longs for her birthday party so she can invite everyone from her class. But her father knows no matter how many invitations his daughter doles out, not a single child will show up. The NLD child wants social acceptance more than anything, and more often than not will never achieve it.
Just imagine your own child going through this.