When I saw the article blurb on my browser, and they just said “learning disability”–rather than saying “dyslexia” or “autism” etc. — I just knew what kind of learning disability Chris Rock had been diagnosed with. So I read it and sure enough:
The far bigger commitment has been therapy, however; seven hours a week, he says with unmistakable pride. His decision to seek meaningful help for the first time in his life was precipitated by a friend’s suggestion that he may have Asperger’s. It prompted a nine-hour battery of cognitive tests earlier this year, from which doctors diagnosed Rock with a condition called nonverbal learning disorder, or NVLD. As he’s come to understand it, he has tremendous difficulty with non-verbal signals — which doesn’t sound too drastic until, as he explains, you consider that some 80 percent of communication is nonverbal. “And all I understand are the words,” he says.
Rock often takes things too literally as a result and, like others with the condition, suffers from a kind of all-or-nothing thinking. “By the way, all of those things are really great for writing jokes — they’re just not great for one-on-one relationships,” he says. Until now, it’s made much of Rock’s life uncomfortable. “And I’d always just chalked it up to being famous. Any time someone would respond to me in a negative way, I’d think, ‘Whatever, they’re responding to something that has to do with who they think I am.’ Now, I’m realizing it was me. A lot of it was me.”