I’ve been reading extensively about nonverbal learning disability since my diagnosis a few years ago, and I can’t help noticing that there’s a lack of information on how the disorder affects adults. If you’ve been following the NLD links I’ve placed in earlier posts, you’ve seen that they’re geared toward educators and parents of school-aged children. While the information is sound, it’s difficult for a grown-up to compare the ways in which NLD affects interactions in the middle school classroom or on the playground to the problems s/he faces today.
I find this kids-only approach curious, because as humans we spend the majority of our lives as adults, and NLD doesn’t disappear once a child matures. For me, the disorder’s actually gotten more problematic over time. Social interactions with peers have become complex and harder to interpret, and my parents aren’t regulating every aspect of my life.
What happens to autistic kids when they grow up? Does a kid with substantial verbal impairment have a decent shot at growing up to have a family or a job? Does quality of life get better, worse, or stay the same? What kinds of support or services do middle-aged people with autism need? What do they get? Are they happy?
I have other questions to add to Robison’s: I wonder too, about the relationships between class, culture, gender and nonverbal learning disability and what happens to those of us with the disorder as we age. Are we destined to suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s as a matter of course?
Over the next several months, I’m going to be asking NLD adults and experts these questions and more. I’ll be creating a questionnaire that I hope you’ll respond to openly so I can determine what issues regarding NLD really matter to you. Your input is important. It will make THE ODD BIRD a better blog and a better film.
In the meantime, if you’d like to share your concerns about NLD and adulthood, please drop me a line. My next post is Friday.