Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 3 Spring 2015 - Page 22

dren are in middle school or even high school. In children, early and complex speech can mask the initial difficulties of Non-Verbal Learning Disorder, which was certainly the case with Rosie. Rosie by Any Other Name Is Still Rosie Rosie, who is now 8, does attend mainstream classes with the help of an aide. Her mother says that Rosie’s clear and complex speech did disguise her problems with understanding language, but she learned to cope by mimicking the behavior of the other girls in her class and for most of her early years literally took on the role of other children and “became” them. Rosie’s need to constantly be someone else as a way of managing her social surroundings left her not really understanding who she was. Rosie became anxious, and her self-esteem was at an all-time low. The combination of the two left Rosie feeling angry all the time and unable to control her emotional outbursts. Whether or not they called her condition Asperger’s or NVLD at this point did not matter. What did matter was getting Rosie some help so that she could better understand her emotions, be less anxious and better control her anger. Out of desperation Rosie’s parents signed her up for drama therapy,* which ended up being a huge success for her. In fact, after one session, Rosie told Joanna, “I know how to be myself.” (*For more information on what drama therapy is, see Leslie Burby’s article) Perhaps Non-Verbal Learning Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome could be the same condition just diagnosed by different fields of medical expertise? NVLD is diagnosed by neuro-psychological testing while Asperger’s Syndrome is diagnosed by interpretation of observed behavior. Is it even important what “label” is given when the issues are so similar? Whether an Aspie or an NVLDer, what matters is that your areas of difficulty are recognized and supported by people who understand that you have challenges. After all, as William Shakespeare once said, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Helen Teasdale is a secret Nutella addict (Shh … don’t tell) and a one-to-one Teaching Assistant for an awesome eight-year-old autistic child. Helen also runs an autism support group for parents as well as an online autism resource called The Jigsaw Tree. Follow her on FB or Twitter. 22 Zoom Autism Through Many Lenses