Nonverbal learning disorder (NLD) is a type of learning disabilities. Children with NLD often have a hard time in completing tasks that require verbal skill, such as writing, which can make teachers confuse them for being lazy or unmotivated. Although NLD is on the autism scale, not all sufferers are autistic or diagnosed with Asperger’s. in contrast with the term, nonverbal learning disorder, NLD kids can be very verbal.
NLD happens due to fine and gross motor skill impairment, which makes the kids struggle to write. Other aspects like long-term memory, perception, and logic skill may appear as normal and sometimes mask their disability. But it often becomes more visible in the third or fourth grade as writing assignments are longer. NLD can only be diagnosed by a neuropsychologist, but the symptoms and characteristics can be noticed by parents or teachers.
Academically, children with NLD may show:
- Difficulty with any nonverbal assignments
- Difficulty completing tasks requiring short-term memory
- Challenges regarding math computations
- Severe dysgraphia which causes writing to be labored or delayed
- Difficulty understanding instructions that are written
- Inability to stay focused and organizational difficulty
Nonverbal learning disorder may also be identified with characteristics in the children’s social aspect, which include:
- Improper trust in strangers
- Difficulty in making friends
- Extremely literal interpretations of other people’s speech
- Difficulty understanding nonverbal language such as facial expression and gestures.
- Extreme interpretation of what’s fair
Children with NLD often show physical characteristics, such as:
- Fine and gross motor skills delay
- Difficulty understanding visual and spatial relationships
- Tendency toward sedentary or passive activities
Being misunderstood or not properly diagnosed may cause the child with NLD to go through a rough patch and social stigma that can result in isolation. Giving the children clear verbal instructions, as well as allowing them to work at a slower rate or complete some tasks verbally can increase student success and improve their self-esteem.