Saturday, February 04, 2006

I should have gotten accommodations on my driver's test

This book I'm reading, "Endangered Minds," hit very close to home for me in the 7th chapter. The author discusses learning disabilities and their apparent growing prevalence. She points out that children diagnosed with a learning disability generally have trouble in an area that is essential in our culture for school and career performance. Usually reading. If we were in a society of artisans or musicians, with schools that only had reading class once a week, we would probably have diagnosed a whole slew of learning disabilities in those areas, while kids who have difficulty learning to read might be star students.

This fascinated me because I have long felt that I have a learning disability when it comes to visual/spatial skills, but I thought this was not a recognized disability. I perform so poorly in this area that it's embarrassing, and it has become all the more obvious to me in the past decade, since I paired up with Epu, Mr. Artist Engineer Guy, who is so gifted in the very skills I lack. For instance, you know how people say, "I never forget a face?" I have a really hard time recognizing and remembering people's faces, and this leads to all kinds of embarrassing situations for me. I also get lost all the time. I've lived in the same city for five years now, and yet I routinely get lost just about every time I try to drive somewhere outside my immediate neighborhood. I kind of realized that this probably is connected to why I'm so bad at sports involving a ball.

What I didn't realize is that these deficiencies are linked to other things I'm not so good at. Until I read this evening in this book about something called "nonverbal learning disorder." I jumped up off the couch and Googled it right away, and I came up with this survey:

If I were a kid, according to this, I should be referred to a neuropsychologist right away.* Now that I'm in my 30s, I think my brain is pretty much set in its ways. The funny thing is, although these things are a huge inconvenience, I'm used to it and I'm ok with it. There's always Mapquest.

The thing that freaked me out about the description in the book and this survey was linking social problems with these right-brain shortcomings. I had major social problems in school, and I have always wondered why. It seemed that I was somehow marked, from the earliest grades, as different. According to this stuff, that's quite common for kids with this disability. So is getting marked as gifted because of unusually strong verbal skills.

Which, of course, makes me wonder about my own kid, who has out-of-the-park verbal skills but is getting passed up in physical skills by kids several months younger than her. I guess I should really keep an eye on her with this, and encourage her to work on those spatial and physical skills. Maybe we'll even join that kiddie gymnastics class I was thinking about.

* That sounds like a cool job, doesn't it? I hate to think how much school it might require, though? Do you become a neurologist like Oliver Sacks first, then get a PhD in psychology? Yikes.


Notta Wallflower said...

This is an interesting post - I'll have to check out that book. Like you, I've always had difficulties figuring out "where my body is in space", especially with respect to directions and driving.

Not sure what's involved in being a neuropsychologist, but for testing/assessment purposes, you have to be able to administer and interpret the full range of tests - cognitive, academic, motor/fine motor, memory, nonverbal skills (sometimes under cognitive testing) and language. Makes for good private business venture - you'd never want for $ since they charge up the "you-know-what" for services. :-P

Anonymous said...

This is a really late reply, but I also have NVLD and was wondering how can you get accomodations on your driving test? What type? I live in Canada, and I've never heard of this... unfortunately I also have a counsellor/learning disability advisor and she is totally & completely unhelpful, so this could be why I don't know about it. Currently looking to switch.

Thanks to your thoughts on this! I am 21 yrs old & was just recently diagnosed with this disorder, although I've had it all my life... just never formally knew.

Good luck, and hope to hear from you! my e-mail address is ms_abstrakt(at) if you'd rather e-mail.