NVLD or ADHD or something else entirely

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Emu Egg
Emu Egg

Joined: 26 May 2019
Posts: 4
Location: Ireland

26 May 2019, 12:28 pm

Hey everyone,

Nice community you have here. I am hoping someone can offer me advice or has some insight. I apologise in advance for the length. I was diagnosed as having NVLD around 10 years ago. There seems to be some overlap with Aspergers and ADHD. Here are the symptoms:

- Great vocabulary and verbal expression (not so much, I have good comprehension but expression can be difficult sometimes. I guess I'm a little better than average)

- Excellent memory skills (Not so much. Working memory is not great. I'm constantly misplacing stuff, forgetting the reason I ran up the stairs. If I go to the shop for 4-5 items without a list, there is good chance I'll forget something.

- Attention to detail, but misses the big picture (I have good attention to detail. I can make mistakes so I check my work over and over. I don't miss the big picture. In fact I have a better grasp of it that most people I know. I connect the dots easily)

- Trouble understanding reading (nope, not at all)

- Difficulty with math, especially word problems (No, I'm decent at math.)

- Poor abstract reasoning (Nope)

- Physically awkward; poor coordination (yes, rubbish at sports)

- Messy and laborious handwriting (yes)

- Concrete thinking; taking things very literally (Nope. well ok maybe I did in the past a little but not now)

- Trouble with nonverbal communication, like body language, facial expression and tone of voice (yes, when I was younger but I learned how to do this)

- Poor social skills; difficulty making and keeping friends (I did when I was younger, for sure)

- Fear of new situations (a little I guess but I'll force myself to do it anyway)

- Trouble adjusting to changes (yeah, that's true)

- May be very naïve and lack common sense (I'm cynical and a little paranoid. I think I developed that from experiences with people though so this was probably true in my teens.

- Anxiety, depression, low self-esteem (yeah in the past, not so much now)
1. May withdraw, becoming agoraphobic (I did withdraw I guess when I was younger but not now)

Ok, if you have managed to get this far you will have seen that I have some of the symptoms, others I don't. I said this to the psychologist at the time. For every symptom that didn't match, he explained away by saying I had a learned to compensate. I was skeptical then and I still am now.I'm convinced that the psychologist gave me the wrong diagnosis and that he did it mainly because of the 20 point gap between my verbal and performance IQ. I've been reading about ADHD and I think the label fits me a lot better than NVLD. Here is a little about me:

- I was a underachiever until around 30, dropped out of college multiple times, drug abuse, gambling, stayed in a job I hated etc. I'm in my late thirties now and I am reasonably high performing. I have a good job that I like and I have a family. I'm also doing part time study. This is tough going as I procrastinate a lot but eventually I seem to get the work done in time.

- I'm disorganised. My life is going in the right direction but I can't shake the feeling that the whole thing is going to fall apart if I don't get my act together.

- My procrastination causes me endless issues. Here is a few examples:
- Running out with the bins like a crazy person as I see the trash collection truck pass my house, because I didn't put them out the night before for the 3rd or 4th time.
- Leaving college assignments until the last minute. I always submit them with around an hour to go or I get an extension. I spend more time looking at the assignment, thinking about it, avoiding it etc rather than doing it (I'm doing this right now. :'( This means that I have a lot less time to spend with a family that I adore, yet I still keep doing it.
- Didn't pay the road roll the next day, or the warning letter, until I end up getting a fine of around 40 euro (did this around 3 times)

- Was considered a dreamer at school but I still got ok grades. Most of my report cards were like "has good potential but..."

- Terrible time management skills. Often late for appointments and work (I just work later to make up for it). Often misjudge journey time or how much time i have to get ready.

- I guess I was impulsive when I was younger but not so much now. Still I buy stupid stuff I can't afford now and then.

- I have issues focusing and I get distracted easily. I use sound cancelling head phones at work to drown out the sound of my colleagues talking. Otherwise I'd get nothing done.

- I have quite a temper and I get pretty frustrated with colleagues at work. It isn't an issue because I don't express it often. I'm introverted and shy so I am a natural at this.

- I keep changing productivity systems one after the other.

- I have this overwhelming feeling that I could contribute something great if only I could get organised. This is probably pure self delusion mind.

- I have trouble completing or starting tasks that I don't like. Put me in front of a linux terminal or ask me to solve an interesting/challenging problem and I will find it very difficult to pull myself away. When I get in this state the whole world could burn and I'll just tune it out.

- Sometimes I have trouble expressing my ideas. I can think through stuff fine. I just have some difficulties expressing what I am thinking to other people.

- Forgetful. I forget birthdays, anniversaries commitments unless I put them in a calendar (which was never until recently) My Dad died last year and I don't know what date it was. That's kinda messed up as far as I am concerned.

I rang a clinical psychologist yesterday and left her a message asking if she could assess me. What do you guys think of the above? Does any of this resonate with you?


User avatar

Joined: 2 Feb 2016
Age: 50
Gender: Male
Posts: 3,050
Location: Yorkshire, UK

26 May 2019, 1:12 pm

Welcome to Wrong Planet.

Firstly; yes, you're quite right that there are considerable areas of overlap between NVLD, ASD, and AD(H)D. This does seem to be getting a little more recognition recently - the forthcoming new diagnostic guide ICD-11 no longer makes ASD and AD(H)D mutually exclusive diagnoses, for example.

What I'm struck by in your description is how much of it seems to correspond to "executive functioning" (EF) - the bits of the brain used to determine our choices and then act upon them. This is very much a grey area, as exactly these problems are typical of AD(H)D (particularly "pure inattentive" ADD, without the impulsiveness), but they may also be viewed as a sub-set of autistic traits. You will certainly find many people here who readily identify with the things you've mentioned, including me (I am diagnosed ASD, but have EF traits closely matching pure-inattentive ADD.)

You say in a few places that your behaviour has changed over time and that you have "learned" to do certain things. I would not rule out that this relates to the psychologist's suggestion of "compensation". The fact that you are aware of having learned them may be evidence that you did not pick them up innately as an infant - that is, that although you have learned to do them, the process by which you do it may not be the same as most other people. This is what we know here as "masking" - the use of the brain's "general purpose" computing power to tailor our behaviour to social norms in place of innate "instincts". As I discovered after my ASD diagnosis, this can be something that we don't realise we're doing, because we've accepted it as our normal mode of thinking since infancy.

Of course, that is all speculation on my part - food for thought, not diagnostic suggestions. But in the same way that I noted similarities between your biography and mine, you might be able to get a clearer picture by joining in here for a while to see what clicks with other members. At the end of the day, self-knowledge is always a benefit, and it may also clarify the evidence needed for a reassessment, should you decide to do that.

When you are fighting an invisible monster, first throw a bucket of paint over it.

Emu Egg
Emu Egg

Joined: 26 May 2019
Posts: 4
Location: Ireland

27 May 2019, 5:25 pm

Thanks for the welcome and for taking the time to reply to my post. :)

Yes, although I rejected the diagnosis at first (I guess I'm still kinda rejecting it even now) one thing I'm sure the psychologist is right about is that I have impaired executive function. One can explain away some behaviours with labels like careless, lazy, disorganised etc. (I internalised these when I was a kid) but stuff like:

- Walking into a room and forgetting why I am there.
- Meeting someone I know pretty well and forgetting their name (this happens almost daily)
- Losing my passport, debit card, driver's license over and over.
- Someone interrupting me and having to talk myself through remembering what I was doing previously.

That's not normal and can't be explained away so easily.

It's funny, I didn't realise about the compensation part until you pointed it out to me. I don't know myself as well as I thought. :) The way you explained it as masking makes sense to me. I have a gut feeling that you are right but I have to do more thinking about it. One thing I know for sure is that I was quite different from my peers.

It's intersting that our biographies are similar. I find it fascinating (and encouraging I guess) that there are other people like me out there.

You have given me a lot to think about. Thanks again.