An Interview with Peter Flom, Ph.D. on Nonverbal Learning Disorder
David Van Nuys, Ph.D.
Dr. Peter Flom, Ph.D., talks in this podcast about living with a rare learning disability known as NLD, which stands for nonverbal learning disability. He is a learning disabled adult. When he was five, a psychologist told his parents he would never go to college. Undaunted, his mother teamed with Elizabeth Freidus to start The Gateway School of New York. Peter got his B.A. at 20, and now he has two master's degrees and a Ph.D. in psychometrics. He relates that a lot of people think nonverbal learning disorder means that people with the diagnosis are nonverbal. But actually it's a disability with the nonverbal aspects of language, like tone of voice, body language, facial expression, things like that. Also a lot with spatial relationships and often temporal relationships; so how long things take to do, how long it takes to get somewhere, where things are. Dr. Flom discusses that it's not an official DSM-IV diagnosis and also gets confused with Asperger's, which it has some similarities to, but it is different. He comments that a lot of people still think that a learning disability has to be something school related, like math or reading, which isn't true.
David Van Nuys: Welcome to Wise Counsel, a podcast interview series sponsored by Mentalhelp.net, covering topics in mental health, wellness, and psychotherapy. My name is Dr. David Van Nuys. I'm a clinical psychologist and your host.
On today's show, we'll be talking with Dr. Peter Flom about living with a rare learning disability known as NLD, which stands for nonverbal learning disability. Peter Flom, Ph.D., is a learning disabled adult. When he was five, a psychologist told his parents he would never go to college. Undaunted, his mother teamed with Elizabeth Freidus to start The Gateway School of New York. Peter got his B.A. at 20, and now he has two master's degrees and a Ph.D. in psychometrics. Peter works as a statistical consultant and is working on a book about being learning disabled, tentatively titled Screwed Up Somehow, But Not Stupid. He has a website at www.iamlearningdisabled.com. He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons. Now, here's the interview.
Dr. Peter Flom, welcome to Wise Counsel.
Peter Flom: Thank you.
David: Well, I was referred to you by one of my podcast listeners, who drew my attention to a learning disorder that, frankly, was totally new to me. It's called NLD, which I understand may refer to nonverbal learning disorder or alternatively nonverbal learning disability. And I take it that NLD is something you yourself grew up with.
David: Yeah. Of course, nobody knew what it was then. I'm 52 now, so when I was growing up, people had barely heard of LD at all. But the originator of the term, I believe, was Byron Rourke. It's a little bit confusing because a lot of people think nonverbal learning disorder means that I'm nonverbal. But actually it means that I'm bad at stuff that isn't verbal; that is, it's a disability, for me and others, with the nonverbal aspects of language, like tone of voice, body language, facial expression, things like that. Also a lot with spatial relationships and often temporal relationships; so how long things take to do, how long it takes to get somewhere, where things are. Many LD people, including me, get lost a lot or really easily, have trouble remembering where I put things, stuff like that.
David: How come I haven't heard of this before? It sounds like it's pretty major.
Peter Flom: Well, it's not an official DSM-IV diagnosis, which is one thing. And then it also gets confused with Asperger's, which it has some similarities to, but it is different. And other than that, I don't know, it just doesn't get that much publicity. One thing is that a lot of people still think that a learning disability has to be something school related, like math or reading, which isn't true.
David: And so how old were you when you first figured out that there was something going on?
Peter Flom: When I figured out something was going on, I was very young. My parents figured it out. I was invited not to return to my nursery school.
David: Oh, great.
Peter Flom: I guess these days they call them preschools. And my parents were told by a psychologist when I was five that I would never go to college. I wound up getting my bachelor's degree when I was 20, and I now have two master's degrees and a Ph.D., so that was a bad prognosis. And what my mother did instead of listening to that psychologist was she started a school called The Gateway School of New York, which is still in existence and doing very well.
David: Well, that's great, and there's nothing more satisfying than showing them that you were right and that they were wrong.
Peter Flom: Yeah, I actually -- I invited that psychologist to a graduation party that my parents threw for me, and he wrote back saying he couldn't attend but he was glad he was wrong. So at least there's a little bit of that.
David: Yeah, good. So tell us your story. What was your life like as a child?
Peter Flom: Well, at Gateway things were pretty good. After Gateway -- I only went there from age five to nine. At the beginning -- Gateway now goes through middle school, but at that time it only went to age nine. And I left there -- I was the first graduate -- and at age nine I went into fourth grade. And academically I had no real problems. I attended mainstream schools, and I always did pretty well without even working that hard. But there were a lot of social problems. I had very few, if any, friends growing up, and things on that score didn't get better, really, until college, which for me was much better than high school.
David: Well, what sorts of difficulties were you having socially in grade school, and then later in high school?
Peter Flom: Well, in middle and high school, kids who stick out tend to be picked on a lot.
Peter Flom: And even more so back 40 years ago. I mean it's still not good, but, these days at least, more people are aware of things like bullying and it being a problem and so on. Back then there was very little of that. And I got bullied and teased a lot. I had very different interests from most kids in my high school. Well, I went to the same school for 6th through 11th grade, and then I skipped 12th. But I was into chess, and math was my favorite subject, and I wasn't socially adept at all. Like I would tell other kids that I was smarter than they were and things like that.
David: Yeah, that doesn't go over well.
Peter Flom: No, it doesn't.
David: And you say you skipped 12. Does that mean that you went straight out of 11th grade into college?
Peter Flom: Yeah. I did a thing called early admissions, so I applied in -- I guess I must have applied at the end of 10th grade or the very beginning of 11th. I forget now. And they let me into NYU, having skipped -- and skipping 12th grade; which, for me, was terrific because college was just much, much better than high school for me.
David: How so?
Peter Flom: Well, for one thing, I went to a small high school. There were about 120 kids in the whole school. So it was very easy to get a reputation for being the strange one. And then I went to NYU, which is huge, and it's just about impossible to be "the strange one" at NYU. Then also, of course, in college you have a lot more freedom in who you associate with, what courses you take, and so on. So I found people who were interested in the same things I were -- I was interested in, which always helps. And also just I had matured and I was with a much more mature group of people.
And I think people in their early 20s are much more accepting of differences than people in their teens. It's like high school is about fitting in, and college is about standing out. You know, by the time you get to college, people are even deliberately trying to be different from everybody else by all sorts of ways -- whatever courses they take, or how they dress, and so on. Whereas in high school, a lot of it is about which group you fit with and so on.
David: I really like what you just said: high school is about fitting in and college is about standing out. I hadn't heard that before, but that's a great little phrase.
Peter Flom: Yeah, I don't know if it's an exact quote, but I think I got the idea from a book by Rick Lavoie. He wrote a book called It's So Much Work to Be Your Friend. And I sort of remember that idea coming from that book, but I don't think it's an exact quote from the book, though.
David: Now, you mentioned that nonverbal learning disorder is not in the DSM, so again I'm wondering at what point and how did you come to self-identify or be identified by somebody else with that diagnosis?
Peter Flom: I've never been officially diagnosed with it. I went to some -- I read about it online somehow, and I read a description of what NLD was like, and a lot of it was me, except that two of the traits we're supposed to have is no sense of humor and being bad at math, except sometimes for rote arithmetic. But I'm a statistician for a living, and most people think I have a sense of humor. So I wrote to the -- I wrote in and I said, "Where do I go to return these traits so that I fit better with your diagnosis?" [Laughs] Go see [?].
I have a lot of traits -- and NLD is probably the problem that fits me best, but I have traits of autism; I have traits of areas where I'm gifted; I have things in common with Asperger's people. And I tell people I have 100 percent diagnosis of being Peter. And every kid, every adult, who has a disability of any kind, really, has a 100 percent diagnosis of being them. Nobody, or just about nobody, fits the profile of anything exactly.
David: Yes. And that's certainly the case. And one of the real challenges of any diagnostic system is that it's a generalization, and each person is unique and different and never exactly fits.
Peter Flom: Right.
David: You're totally right about that.
Peter Flom: I mean labels can be useful. Some people are so anti-label that it's like no label ever fits anybody. And I'm not that far. I mean I think labels can be useful. They can help you find resources. They can help you feel like you're not so alone. They can give you other people who are somewhere similar to you. But you can't let them be a box. Like, well, I was online and somebody asked, on one of the mailing lists I'm on, "Can a person be NLD and ADHD?" And I said back, "Is your child NLD and ADHD? If he is, then you can be. And if no one else has heard of it, well, that's their problem." Because people are the way they are.
David: How was graduate school for you? I mean you really exceeded expectations, and college was a good experience. What was graduate school like?
Peter Flom: Graduate school was cool. I had two degrees. I've always liked kids, so my first degree was in special education. And the classwork was fine, but teaching is not for me -- or teaching kids, anyway, is not for me, especially little kids. They say good teachers have eyes in the back of their head, and I barely have eyes in the front of my head, and I don't know what's going on.
So it's very hard for me to supervise large groups of kids. So that didn't work, although the classwork was fine. And then my Ph.D. is in psychometrics, and that was fine. I mean now I work as a statistician, which is certainly related. But that worked out very well, and actually that was -- I got that degree -- I took -- there was a break in there. There was a long break in there. I got my Ph.D. in 1999.
David: Okay. And so I did some background reading on the Web, too, trying to prepare for this interview and trying to learn something about this diagnosis that I had not previously encountered. And one of the things that I read was that people with NLD may have strong verbal skills -- clearly, you do -- and on intelligence tests like the WISC, which is used with children, they may be high on the verbal side but low on performance, have some difficulties with fine manipulation of things, tend to be an auditory learner and a rote learner. To what degree do those things fit or not fit for you?
Peter Flom: Well, I'm not a rote learner, but all the other things fit. When I took the WISC, I took the WISC when I was 9 or 10, and I got subtest scores from 60 to 160. So I did very, very well on vocabulary, analogies, and general knowledge. I did very, very badly on object assembly, coding, and any of that stuff.
And then later, in graduate school, I helped out a friend who was learning to give the WAIS, and I got a very similar pattern of scores in that. In arithmetic I was off the charts, but in -- where they have one where you match up a pattern of blocks -- you have a set of cubes and you have to turn them so that they're like yellow and blue, and you have to turn them so a match a diagram. And first they give you ones with four cubes, and those I could manage. The ones with nine cubes, I just sat there. I didn't make any of them in any amount of time. So there's the same huge range of skills.
And then similar skills -- I mean my wife tells this story all the time, and it's pretty funny, is that I was once reading a cookbook, and there was a sandwich that sounded pretty good. And it said you can grill it in your toaster oven. So I asked my wife, "Do we have a toaster oven?" And she said, "It's on the counter next to the coffee maker where you make coffee every morning." And I looked and, sure enough, there it was, but I had completely forgotten about it. So, for that sort of thing, it's very extreme for me.
David: Yeah, and I also read that it's not -- or that people with NLD often have problems with social interaction, and you indicated that you did have those problems in high school. So, here you are -- married, and so I'm wondering how did that happen? I mean do you find that, as an adult, because of these underlying perceptual issues, do people perceive you as odd? And how did you break through with your wife and your courtship?
Peter Flom: Well, I met my wife on a blind date, and we just sort of liked each other, and things sort of took their natural turn. I'm still not the socially most skilled person in the world by any means. I tend to do better on the phone than face to face, and I tend to do better on the Internet. I get problems like I had before with things like, oh, the flow of conversation and I interrupt people too much.
I miss -- I will hear someone's body -- I will hear someone's words and understand them but not get the body language that goes with it sometimes. That means that it's -- oh, I don't know -- they're really being facetious or something like that. A lot of NLD people also have problem with tone of voice. I do okay with that, like recognizing sarcasm and things, but I don't do great with body language and stuff.
David: Yeah. You know, one of the things that I read was that most of us don't realize how much of our social interaction is -- underlying that social interaction is nonverbal cues -- body language and all sorts of things that are going on that are implicit.
Peter Flom: Yes. I mean, yeah -- go ahead.
David: Well, just that we're unconscious of that, kind of take it for granted. And so when that's missing, it can lead to some surprising results.
Peter Flom: It leads to problems. I mean one thing that is a nice exercise -- if you watch a favorite TV show, a favorite sitcom or drama, and you turn off the volume, you'll still have a -- most people, who don't have this sort of difficulty, will still be able to get some idea of what's going on, especially if they know the show really well. And I'll have almost no idea.
Peter Flom: So that's one, you know. And, in fact, I've read in -- I forget which book on NLD I read about it -- but it said when you're working with a kid who has NLD, this is one thing you can do, is have them watch a show and turn the volume off and then stop -- because of VCRs and everything now, you can tape it and show a scene at a time, and say, "Now, look -- what expression is that? And what is he doing and what are they doing?" to try to get the kids to tune in more. But you're right, like you read. For most people this is entirely automatic, and it happens at tremendous speed because people's faces change many times a minute.
David: Sure. I also read that there can be physical awkwardnesses with sports, with catching and throwing a ball, with hopping and skipping and so on. Were those issues for you?
Peter Flom: Oh, yeah. I mean I was always the last one picked on every team in school. There's a lot of physical stuff that almost everybody can do that I still can't. I've never figured out how to snap my fingers. I've never figured out how to light a match. I never figured out how to whistle.
Peter Flom: And I can't draw anything. And having gone through special education and getting my master's degree, and then my wife is an artist, a lot of people have heard me say I can't draw anything, and they said, "Oh, come on. Everybody can draw." And they'll try to teach me, and it just doesn't work. I can doodle. In fact, I doodle a lot, so I make like little triangles and squares and stuff like that. But I can't figure out how to draw a cylinder.
David: Ah hah, yeah.
Peter Flom: And that's fairly basic. And for me it just -- they come out different every time.
David: Yeah, so it's interesting that there are certain things that you can't do, and simultaneously you're aware of those limitations -- I mean that you can see where your deficits are.
Peter Flom: Yeah, at least a lot of them. There are probably some that I'm not aware of.
David: As you say, on the telephone actually there's nothing that I am picking up on here that would be different than talking to somebody else.
Peter Flom: Well, this plays to my strengths.
David: Yeah, that's great. I also read that anxiety can be a big component that goes along with this -- anxiousness, depression. Sometimes people become socially withdrawn, you know, because of the kinds of experiences you were having in high school, I guess. Supposedly there may be a higher risk of suicidality. Was anxiety a prominent feature for you?
Peter Flom: Yeah, I'm still somewhat anxious about a lot of things, and I'm not depressed now, but I was very depressed in high school, or I would say I was clinically depressed for about a decade -- so including having suicidal thoughts and getting pretty close to it a couple times.
David: And what pulled you through?
Peter Flom: For me, it was logic. I always figured if I kill myself today, I won't know what tomorrow is like. But if I wait until tomorrow, I can always do it later. And, you know, like day after day, now I'm 52. So [unclear].
David: Yeah. What about treatment? Is there any sort of treatment that you've experienced or that you've learned about that is effective?
Peter Flom: Well, there's a lot of debate on NLD [unclear] in the literature about what kind of treatment is or isn't effective. I've been in traditional talk-type psychodynamic I guess therapy a couple times, and both times for me it was very effective. Other people with NLD have been in talk therapy and had it be not effective at all. Some people have found cognitive-behavior type therapies useful.
My own feeling, it depends a lot more on the particular therapist and the match with the particular person. So there are now starting to be some people who sort of specialize in NLD, and a lot of people have heard of it, and probably almost every therapist has heard of Asperger's, which has -- like it has some related qualities. But a lot, I think, just depends on finding somebody who gets you, as opposed to getting your diagnosis.
Like when I was in school, I was in therapy, and mostly the guy just gave me unconditional positive regard -- especially when I was in the younger ages of that -- because he figured out that that's what I needed. I wasn't getting that sort of friendship and affection anywhere, and he was just saying, "Peter, here's -- oh, you did that well. You did this well. This was good. That was good." And it wasn't traditional therapy, which involves quite a lot of criticism. There was almost none. Whereas when I was in therapy as an adult, it was much more what a traditional type talk therapy would be like, but I was doing a whole lot better when I was an adult than when I was a [unclear].
David: Yes. You mentioned Asperger's. And you wrote a blog post titled, "I am not Temple Grandin." In fact, not long ago I actually had the opportunity to interview Temple Grandin. And I gather that NLD sometimes is mistaken for Asperger's syndrome. What's the difference?
Peter Flom: Well, if you take Temple in particular, and I think autistic people more generally, and some Asperger's people more generally -- I mean one of Temple's books is Thinking in Pictures, I think. If I have the title --
Peter Flom: I'm not sure if I have the title exactly right.
David: Yeah, I think that's right.
Peter Flom: Which is just the opposite of how I -- I don't think in pictures at all. When I was at a conference for NLD a while back, they had one person demonstrating this software to help people who had Asperger's and various other problems learn to write. And it was -- I forget the title -- but it took -- you could draw pictures and put things on different places on the screen and write little bits, and it would organize it for you. And I said, "Do you have anything to do the opposite?" You know, because that would have been awful for me, and for some other people who were in the audience said the same thing, because we're good with the words. I'm fine with the words.
If I write short pieces, like on my blog or even college essays, I don't have a problem organizing. Some NLD people have problems with shorter pieces as well, but I always manage those. But if you get to really longer pieces, I may have problems organizing because I have trouble remembering the whole flow of something. But if you say -- I'm much better with nonfiction, both reading and writing, than with fiction, because so much of fiction is visual, even if we don't think so.
For instance, if you describe someone's expression -- and I think I read somewhere "He had a whimsical expression on his face." Well, I don't know what that is. I can't picture that. I can do the basic six emotions; you know, I know what anger and surprise and those things look like. I can tell a smile from a frown. But the subtle ones I don't get, so I don't visualize that way, although I certainly know what "whimsical" means. And then there's also in fiction a lot of empathy. You know, you have to sort of put yourself in the position of the characters.
Peter Flom: And I'm bad at that.
David: What about movies? Is it easier for you when you're watching a movie?
Peter Flom: I do okay with movies. I mean I like, I guess, regular type movies. When I read fiction, I tend to read genre fiction -- science fiction and mysteries and things -- which tend to be less literary. And I guess I'm also less -- I'm not into very arty films. I don't get them. And I guess similar with art. I mean the art that I like best tends to be very representational. If I see Rembrandt, I know what Rembrandt is trying to do -- "Oh, a portrait. Hey, it looks just like it's a person. There it is, you know." And you can say, "Oh, it's really beautiful," or else maybe not, but you don't have to guess, or imagine, or go with the mood of it. And that's the type of thing I'm bad at.
David: As I was trying to research something about the causality, I discovered that sometimes it's referred to as a "right hemisphere learning disorder," which I found fascinating; that evidently, at least in some cases, they have discovered some sort of damage or abnormality in the right hemisphere of the brain. Is that anything that you can comment on?
Peter Flom: It certainly makes sense, given what I know about right hemisphere and left hemisphere functions, but I don't really know much about it.
David: And also, in that regard, I read that evidently it's not hereditary. There doesn't seem to be any hereditary or gender differences, but more to relate to this -- something about what's -- the processing in the right hemisphere. You mentioned several times about going on the Internet, and it sounds like that's been a source of support for you.
Peter Flom: Yeah. I'm on a couple of mailing lists about NLD. They're both Yahoo groups. One is called NLD-in-Common, and that's for anybody who's interested in NLD. It could be a person with NLD, a parent, a teacher, or just anybody who's curious. And I'm also on one called NLD Adult, which is just for adults with NLD. NLD-in-Common, I think if I remember right, anybody can join. NLD Adult, you have to write to the moderators and say -- I mean it's not like an onerous process, but it's a moderated list.
David: Do you find that the people on these lists are people who themselves have NLD? Or do they more tend to be parents who are concerned about their kids and whether or not they have NLD?
Peter Flom: Well, NLD Adult, like I said, is just for people with NLD. So those are all people who have at least somewhat similar problems. NLD-in-Common, there's a nice mix. I think one of the nice things about NLD-in-Common is that you get this mix of adults with NLD, parents of people with NLD, teachers. There's a couple of people who are like psychologists or therapists of some kind or other -- coaches. And that's a nice thing.
Like I learned -- I mean right now I work for me. I'm an independent consultant. But when I was working at a regular organization, I learned some nice tricks about meetings, and I learned those from a guy who was not NLD, but one of his kids had NLD, and he was a manager in a big company, so he knew a lot about how these things functioned. And he told me a couple things [unclear] or [unclear].
One was never speak until your boss has spoken. And then he had a guy who worked for him who also had the same problem I do of talking a lot and interrupting. And what that guy did is found a buddy in the organization and said, "You always sit --" and they were in the same group so they were in meetings a lot. And he said, "You always sit next to me, and if I start talking too much, do this." You know, and he'd either touch my elbow in a particular way or something. They devised a system. And I haven't done the second one. The first one turned out to be pretty useful.
But this sort of -- I think a great thing is -- for people with NLD, for people with other learning disabilities too -- is I say it's like a way around the mountain. Like if a disability is a mountain between you and where you want to go, then there's a couple things you can do -- or four things I think. You can ignore it and say, "I didn't want to go there anyway. I'll just stay over here." That doesn't work too well, usually, because you really do want to go to the other side of the mountain. Then you can try to go through the mountain, which I would say is just like extra effort -- like work harder, do more, work harder. And that sometimes works. You can go over the mountain, which I sort of think of as taking more time than everybody does, and that can work with things like extended time or just doing more work. And that sometimes works. But then I say you can also go around the mountain, and that I liken to finding tricks.
Like, for instance, I live in Manhattan, and Manhattan's on a grid, and one thing about the numbering, the house numbering, is that on the side streets the odd numbers are always on the north side of the street. Now, if I go into a building and I come out, I have no idea which way I'm supposed to turn, okay? Most people just remember. But I can say, oh, if I'm on the side street, I can look at the canopy or the building number and say, oh, it's an odd number. That means I'm on the north side. That means I'm facing south. I want to go east. And then sometimes I'll turn myself around so I'm facing the building and facing north, and then I remember east is on my right. Now, that's a little bit complicated, but it's better than wandering around lost.
Peter Flom: And there's lots of these tricks. I remember, once, I had -- I knew a woman -- this wasn't NLD but a different kind of learning disability, dyscalculia probably. And she could read a ruler; she could read the big numbers and so she knew one inch, two inch, three inch. But she said she could never remember which one was a half, or which one was three-quarters, and so on.
One way to deal with that would be for somebody to say, "Just work harder at it. Look, it's this way. It's this way." And that wasn't working for her. She just couldn't get it. So I said, "Well, why don't you go to the Lighthouse and you buy one of these rulers that are marked for blind people. And she wasn't blind at all, but then she could feel. And they're marked not with little lines, but with things [?] that say what the lines mean, and that was very useful for her. And stuff like -- I think this sort of trick is very useful.
David: Yeah, that's great. And it sort of takes me back to my earlier question about treatment approaches, and it would seem to me that, based on what you're saying, is that a skills approach could also be quite useful, where little tricks like you're talking about here could be taught as skills.
Peter Flom: Sure. I think you'd have to find somebody who was very creative at putting themselves in the other person's position and wondering what can this person and can't this person do. And that could be very useful, I think -- you're right -- for the practicalities of it.
David: Yes. Well, Peter, you've been very open about your experience. I really appreciate that. As we wind down, is there anything else that you'd like to add?
Peter Flom: Well, no. I guess -- well, I can mention my blog, which is called iamlearningdisabled.com. So -- nice, straightforward. I don't believe in euphemisms. I had a friend who was deaf, and she said, "I'm deaf. Euphemisms are for the differently brained." So I just put it right out there -- I'm learning disabled. And I'm working on a book. I'm not sure when it's going to come out, but the title is going to be Screwed Up Somehow, But Not Stupid. And I guess that's it.
David: Okay. Well, people will be looking for your book, I'm sure. We'll look forward to that coming out. And, Dr. Peter Flom, I want to thank you for being my guest and sharing so openly on Wise Counsel.
Peter Flom: Well, you're welcome, and thanks for having me.
David: I hope you found this conversation with Dr. Peter Flom to be informative. If you'd like to learn more about NLD, I found a good resource on the Web at www.NLDontheweb.org. Once again, the book Dr. Flom is working on is tentatively titled Screwed Up Somehow, But Not Stupid. He also has a website at www.iamlearningdisabled.com.
You've been listening to Wise Counsel, a podcast interview series sponsored by Mentalhelp.net. If you found today's show interesting, we encourage you to visit Mentalhelp.net, where you can add a comment or question to this show's web page, view other shows in the series, or simply page through the site, which is full of interesting mental health and wellness content. Access the show's page and show archive information via the podcast box on the Mentalhelp.net home page.
If you like Wise Counsel, you might also like ShrinkRapRadio, my other interview podcast series, which is available online at www.shrinkrapradio.com. Until next time, this is Dr. David Van Nuys, and you've been listening to Wise Counsel.
Peter Flom Ph.D. is a learning disabled adult. When he was 5, a psychologist told his parents he would never go to college. Undaunted, his mother teamed with Elizabeth Freidus to start the Gateway School of NY. Peter got his BA at 20 and now has two masters degrees and a PhD in psychometrics. Peter works as a statistical consultant and is working on a book about being learning disabled, tentatively titled "Screwed up Somehow, but not Stupid". He has a website at www.IAmLearningDisabled.com. He lives in NYC with his wife and two sons.