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Nonverbal Learning Disabilities

Nonverbal Learning Disabilities

Children with a Nonverbal Learning Disabilities (NVLD) find it naturally challenging to process spatial information and display age-appropriate social skills. While every child with an NVLD presents with his or her specific pattern of strengths and weaknesses. Core features of the disability include difficulty navigating novel situations, mathematical deficits, struggles interacting with peers in social settings, and executive functioning deficits. The latter realm comprises trouble staying focused, organizing tasks and materials, planning, and implementing time management skills.

Some students who are diagnosed with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities shows autistic-like behavior. They set themselves into a routine. And it cannot be changed without causing a significant disruption. These students can only be expected to complete small chunks of work or tasks at any given time.

Gross and fine motor struggles may also be present, and sensory processing issues are universal. Many over-lapping diagnostic categories describe certain aspects of an Nonverbal Learning Disabilities. A proper assessment is critical to creating a meaningful treatment plan with individualized recommendations. Obtaining a comprehensive neuro-psychological evaluation from a provider familiar with child development and NVLD research will allow you to focus your time and resources as a parent. This ensure that your child reaches his or her full potential.

Reinforcement of previously learned ideas is essential for their success. Many of these students don’t have the appropriate social cues to understand jokes or words with double meanings. It is best to keep sentences and directions short, and to the point to help these children be more successful.

The main characteristics of Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NVLD)

  • Sense of touch/feeling is distorted, especially on the left side of the body.
  • Poor coordination, especially as it relates to the left side of the body.
  • Visual-spatial planning difficulties (may misjudge the distance to an object he sees and as a result, may collide with that object).
  • Pronounced difficulty in adapting to new or complex situations.
  • Falls back on learned rote behaviors in new situations.
  • Cannot interpret social cues, has poor social judgment, fumbles social interactions.
  • Poor perception of time.
  • Large vocabulary.
  • Counts on language for building relationships, for gathering information, and for relieving anxiety.
  • Poor arithmetic skills, poor understanding of scientific principles and theories.
  • Early childhood attention and hyperactivity issues (often confused with ADHD) followed by later social withdrawal and isolation.
  • Intelligence tests will show high verbal IQ and poor performance IQ due to visual-spatial difficulties.

Additional tips for working with children with nonverbal learning disabilities include:

  • Give direct instructions to the student.
  • Review previously taught information to make sure its already been mastered before presenting something new.
  • Create daily routines and stick to them.
  • Use plain and clear language.
  • Break activities into smaller steps, so the child does not become overwhelmed.
  • Work with family members to be sure the individual feels part of the family.


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Nonverbal Learning Disabilities
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Nonverbal Learning Disabilities
The main characteristics of Nonverbal Learning Disorder and tips for working with children with nonverbal learning disabilities.
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