My talk at LDA Orlando: On being gifted and LD: Twice as weird with extra fun!

Next week I will be giving a talk at the LDA conference in Orlando.  For those who can’t make it, here is the outline:

1 Who I am

2 Can you be 2E?

Why not? Can you be tall and thin? People have an enormous variety of traits and abilities. Anything that adults know that babies don’t was learned at some point and you can be LD at any of it and gifted at any of it and any combination. And LD that are not directly related to academics can still have huge effects in schools and on students and on the ways students interact and classrooms interact.

3 How can you be 2E?

  • Anything adults know that babies don’t has to be learned
  • You can be either E in any of that.

4 How am I 2E?

  • Disabled

– Anything to do with space or time

– Facial expression

– Body language

  • Gifted

– Math

– Reading

– Logical thinking

NLDers are opposite of animals Sensory integration problems

5 How to spot a 2E like me

  • Do you have a child in your class who looks like he was dressed by his mom at an age when all the other kids dress in ways that offend their moms?
  • Do you have a child who never seems to have any friends, but you can’t see why?
  • Do you have a child who covers her ears at loud noises? Or soft noises?
  • Do you have a child who doesn’t quite have ADHD exactly, but who seems to be off somewhere, distracted by things going on in his own head?
  • How about one who gets lost trying to find the classroom? Or can’t figure out how to unlock a locker?
  • Zero order skills
  • Social problems
  • Sensory overload
  • Organization in time and space

6 How to help a 2E like me

  • Routines can help. Have them written and give them to the kid and also have them visible somewhere.
  • Use words. Use words a lot.
  • Pretend you were communicating with someone via the internet and had to rely just on the words
  • Be careful with sarcasm or other joking methods that depend on tone of voice. Let the kid ask about jokes in some non-judgemental way.
  • Break things down into small steps; be aware that the ‘things‘ may be social skills that you have difficulty breaking down
  • Be aware that NLDers, esp. 2E NLDers, are often hyperlexic but still may have problems with figurative language or implications from reading
  • Be aware that many NLDers have trouble writing while listening. Offer notes.
  • Teach social skills as skills to be learned rather than things to be gained by osmosis
  • Zero order skills
  • Social problems
  • Sensory overload
  • Organization in time and space
  • Academics



7 Mistakes people make when dealing with NLDers

  • Assuming we’re stupid
  • Assuming we’re deaf
  • Assuming we’re not listening
  • Assuming we’re not interested
  • Assuming we’re like other spectrum people

8 Ten things I wish my teachers knew

  • Just because ‘m disabled doesn’t mean ‘m not abled. There are things I can do badly, there are things I can do well and there are some things I can’t do at all. The fact that some of the things I can’t do at all are easy for most kids, doesn’t mean that some of things I can do well aren’t hard for most kids. If you help me use what I am good at to do what I am bad at, things will go more smoothly for both of us.


  • I often need instructions in a different way; that doesn’t mean I can’t learn. Some kids learn better by listening, some by reading, some by watching someone do something. Don’t assume that I am not interested in learning just because your instructions didn’t seem to take; I might need them in a different format. Once I‘ve figured out the instructions, I can learn a lot of things. and isn’t that what school should be all about?


  • You can ask me questions. If you notice that I‘m not doing what you think I should be doing, or not learning the way you think I should be learning, ask me about it. I might have an answer! i‘ve been this way all my life, and I‘ve come up with some ideas. Or we might come up with something together. Then I can annoy you less.


  • Just because ‘m not doing something doesn’t mean I‘m being lazy. I may have more trouble figuring out what needs doing, especially in unstructured work. I may get overwhelmed when a lot of kids are doing different things at once. I might react by shutting down, or just sitting at my desk; or, being a kid, I might react by having a tantrum or being oppositional. If I am overwhelmed, I won’t be able to work well (and what overwhelms me might not be what overwhelms other kids).


  • If I seem confused, I probably am. That doesn’t mean ‘m stupid or incapable, it just means I haven’t understood something. What’s clear to you may not be clear to me. Almost no one likes to appear confused or foolish, so it’s very unlikely to be an act.


  • Specificity often helps. If you see me not performing properly, you might need to be more specific in what you want me to do.


  • I don’t read body language well. Pretend I‘m blind, if that helps. Or pretend you are writing to me rather than speaking. Would you give instructions differently? Then you’ll be clearer to me, and I can learn and you can teach.


  • On the other hand, labels on things do help. Because I don’t remember where things are. Expecting me to remember where everything is won’t work, but labels usually will. Then you can spend less time telling me where things are, and more time doing your job.


  • Everybody doesn’t know what you think everybody knows. I (that’s me personally, this time) don’t know how to whistle, strike a match, make a bed or fold a bag. But I can solve quadratic equations and do factor analysis. Let me do what I do well, and I will do it well. And then you can do what you do well, too.


  • If I ask for some kind of accommodation, I probably need it. The typical school accommodation, though, may not be right for me. For me (again me personally) extra time would have been no help at all. I was always done first!



9 Contact information

Peter Flom

917 488 7176

@NonverbalLD on Twitter


  1. Dear Peter,

    I am very happy to come across your blog. I have a young boy who is different than his peers at the kindergarten and now am lost in how I can help him. It seems to me that even the teachers (he has had 3 teachers so far) cannot understand him and think that he either might be “not able” to learn or is not smart enough at school.

    Since around 2 years ago, I have desperately for help without success. Everybody seems to brush off my suspicion, even our GP, school advisor, and consultant. I have brought him for a short session with a psycholog and a psychiatrist. But we may need a more serious observation and help. I hope this time, we can get help via school.

    I am desperately hoping we can find the correct help in our place.

    Thanks for writing this blog.

Speak Your Mind