My son and daughter started school this week and I think I was more nervous than they were. We decided to have my son repeat 4th grade. This was not a decision we arrived at lightly. However, after years of doctors visits, research and expert opinion, we've finally had him officially diagnosed with non-verbal learning disorder (NLD). I knew from a very early age that Spencer had issues. He was late to crawl and walk. He appeared to lack the coordination his peers did. He had difficulty articulating words. Unfortunately, the rest of my family dismissed this and kept assuring me that kids develop at different times. But a mother knows and I always say, go with your gut no matter what anyone else says.
NLD is a neurological syndrome that is marked by deficits in four major areas: visual/spatial/organizational, motor, social and sensory. This makes it difficult for children with NLD to develop friendships as they cannot read social cues and have a hard time understanding social interactions. Transitioning to new situations is extremely stressful for these kids and executive functioning is severely impaired. A great definition of NLD can be found at NLDline.
This is a topic that I will be blogging about frequently. I love my son devotedly but learning to deal with his issues has been emotionally and psychologically exhausting. I pray every night that I make the right decisions for him. More than anything I want to be sure that he maintains a healthy self-esteem. Not having other boys around, I often have a hard time determining what is normal boy behavior and what is not. But when Spencer is around other boys his age, his disability is painfully obvious. I often end up crying when I see him with a group of other boys and he can't keep up a conversation and they don't include him in games. It's also heartbreaking when I see him off by himself and I worry if he's lonely and just keeping it in. I'm grateful for the one friend he does have who seems to accept him the way he is and even enjoy being with him but I realize this can change, as it almost did this summer when his friend's family came close to moving away.
I'd love to hear from anyone dealing with NLD or, for that matter, any mom who has a child with special needs. For me, talk therapy helps beyond words and just knowing that other moms struggle daily with their children's issues makes me feel a little less isolated.