My son is now a 16 yr old High School Junior with a verbal
IQ in the very superior range and a
performance IQ in the lower range of average -- a full 40 point discrepancy. Here's the good news - He is happy at school, does very good work in some courses (honors classes in history, adv Hebrew, and probably in a bio course next year). Although he is no social butterfly and can be awkward, he is extremely well respected at school. He enjoys a pretty good social life with a close group of friends - it's small and loyal - and a girlfriend who is pretty NT, but comes from a non-conforming family who thinks my son is wonderful. He is very active in the theater and theater tech program at school, and is a student coach for the mock-trial team. A few weeks ago, we heard that he has been awarded a relatively prestigious fellowship for studies in Jewish religion and ethics for this summer (500 applicants - 26 fellows). In May he will direct the production
of a one-act play he wrote. (It's in rehearsal now) He is looking forward to college, but will probably enroll in a transitional studies program between HS and college to ease the transition...
The challenge is that it took a lot of work to get here -- DS started receiving services when he was just your son's age - 7. He has had both physical and occupational therapy, Speech Language Therapy, social skills courses, special phys ed courses, and LD resource tutors. His coaches, tutors, and I had to teach him many, many things other people learn automatically - like how to keep a social distance, how to modulate his voice, and to let other people talk in a conversation. He still requires accommodations, such as a note taker in each class and extended time testing because he types so slowly, even with years of training and practice. And he takes one less
course than most academic students in his school. His written expression lags far behind his verbal (oral) expression and is a real barrier for him. He has had trouble with basic math operations since 2nd grade and still has a great deal of trouble with math - still has sign confusion and trouble lining up numbers. He also has hypotonia - not an uncommon co-occurrence with NLD - which he works at controlling daily through working out or running at least a mile after school.
And, despite 4 tutors over the years, and a host of tips, tools, and systems, he can not organize or keep track of anything that can't fit neatly into one of his pockets...house keys, phone, wallet, and small camera have never been lost...Anything else? Forget about it!
His NLD affects him in both little and big ways virtually every day -- He can't find anything on a shelf,including books in our study, unless he recites out loud everything he sees (by the way that really does work - verbal mediation is an NLD trait that can be put to good use to address an NLD problem). During spring break he worked as a counselor at our local JCC spring break camp. Each day the counselors received an activity box, with all the supplies for the day's activities, but no directions - since the head of camp thought the activities would be obvious from the supplies provided. DS never, ever figured out what the planned activity was for any day of the week. Luckily his co-counselor could...and she was fine with the fact he couldn't.
Many of the problems caused by NLD do not surface until children are older, especially with very bright kids, who can compensate well for their relative weaknesses through the early grades. In addition, early schooling focuses on skills NLD kids are often good at; much of the learning is centered around acquiring basic literacy skills and learning rote facts. And, the social life of K through second graders is still comparatively simple and fluid...although it gets more challenging quickly.
Advice -- we will all have that as you move forward - The most important thing to me is to love him just the way he is and not to worry that he may seem different or do things differently. After that remember, your son will, with appropriate interventions, be able to do most things he wants to. Most of the kids in the books never had the benefits of early identification and intervention. With
identification and intervention, you and your son can write your own ending.