To the editor: The topic that has been on my mind lately is my nonverbal learning disability, which I was born with.

Since there was no knowledge of it in the 1960s, I never received any help. The learning disability has impacted every aspect of my life. I managed to graduate from college with a bachelor's degree in communications but have never had a job based on that or my writing skills.

When people apply for Social Security disability benefits, they usually hire a lawyer to do it. I did my initial application and appeal myself, and it resulted in a positive decision. I can't remember what I wrote. I just told the truth about my frustration, depression and misunderstandings. That apparently did the trick with the help from a wonderful counselor. I received my diagnosis from Dr. Julianna Reiss at Berkshire Medical Center. She was a very nice lady, but I heard that she had left the hospital.

With the help of the internet, I have become greatly informed about my learning disability. Unfortunately, just knowing about it does not really change anything. I am still misunderstood by the people in my life and I can't change that. My niece has NVLD (nonverbal learning disability) also. That makes me wonder how many generations back that it goes. 

The premise of NVLD is that your brain is wired a certain way like a lamp in order to work correctly. With NVLD, those connections are not wired correctly, which results in a blockage and being unable to learn without difficulty. 

I distinctly remember two incidents where my feelings were really hurt. One was when my fifth grade teacher said to me, "What is it with you?" The other one was when my Uncle Elliot said to me, "You are in a dream world." I was 12 then and went to my room and cried. My uncle was not a nice person and for years afterward I avoided him whenever there was a family gathering. 

In the grand scheme of things, my NVLD is not a deterrent to anyone except myself, and I know that. My advice is to be nice to people even if they appear to be struggling with an invisible issue.

Diane M. Ditman, Pittsfield

Jeannie Maschino can be reached at 413-496-6256 or