Have you ever been "The Only One?"

Have you ever been "The Only One"?

In mid-August 2014, my daughter has the opportunity to finally meet others like her. It will be a first. It will be life changing. It will be the end of a long, lonely chapter and the beginning of a brand new sense of community.

Let me backtrack and explain our story. Jasmine's was a drawn out, arduous birth but she was the happiest, easiest baby. A mother's dream. An affectionate, sweet little girl - I had never been happier.

At the age of three, the light began to go out of Jasmine's eyes. She lost some of her sparkle. Her face often looked grumpy, although she proclaimed to be happy, to be having fun, to having had "the best day ever". I knew something was off.

It took years for medical and educational professionals to take me seriously. Finally, a new, young teacher went to bat for Jasmine and five years later we had a formal diagnosis. Nonverbal Learning Disorder.

NLD is a bit of a misnomer. In a nutshell....actually, it doesn't fit in a nutshell. NLD kids are highly verbal. It's the nonverbal communication that is the struggle. That pretty much boils down to anything that isn't spoken word - body language, facial expression, reading comprehension. Add to that a neurological component. Tactile sensitivity. Poor balance and coordination. A lack of spatial relation. Difficulty with executive functioning.

If you're interested in learning more about Nonverbal Learning Disorder, here are some great articles and websites:

"Nonverbal Learning Disorders" - Sue Thompson

"Descriptive Profile of Children with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities" - J. Palombo

"What is Nonverbal Learning Disorder Syndrome?" - Emily S. Fudge

Each school year (or semester), it's necessary to educate teachers and resource staff. Being "the only" means that none of them have had ever dealt with NLD. I became a tenacious researcher, educator and advocate. NLD has no obvious visible characteristics and because NLD folks have high verbal skills, expectation often does not match ability.

It's no wonder my little girl looked unhappy. She was struggling to understand the world around her.

She went from this bright, happy girl...

to this shy, withdrawn, unsure little girl almost overnight.

After years of love and hard work, the light often returns she's become this:

Fast forward to now. It takes a village to raise a child, and we're ready to expand our village. Our only experience with others who have NLD has been via Facebook. In August, we have the opportunity to attend a conference and be in the same room with kids just like Jasmine...and parents who understand. We'll also meet college students and adults who have developed successful coping strategies. I can't place a value on that.

To see more about the NLD Conference, this link will lead you to the event on Facebook.

Here's where we hope you come in. The conference is in Estes Park, Colorado. That means flights, ground transportation, accommodation, meals, conference registration and missed income while away. The conference is from August 15-17 and for a few days afterwards, we hope to be tourists with other NLD families.

If Jasmine's story touches your heart, would you help her no longer be "the only one". Your donation will allow Jasmine to be one of many. Isn't that what all teenage girls want?

Thank you for your support and kindness!

Karen Elliott
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Karen Elliott 
Stratford, ON
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