What is a Non-Verbal Learning Disability (NVLD)?

“The foundations of non-verbal reasoning are body movements, the ability to touch, to feel, to manipulate, and to build sensory awareness of relationships in the physical world.”

– Jane Healey, “Endangered Minds”

 

  • Non-Verbal-Learning-DisabilityNon-Verbal Learning Disability is a diagnostic label given to individuals whose learning profile reflects missing pieces that have not been gathered through the sensory systems.
  • NLD can be misleading, as individuals present with strengths in the verbal area, and struggles in the non-verbal domain.
  • Verbal/language skills are well-developed in areas of vocabulary, auditory memory, attention to detail, and rote memory. Challenges are present in non-verbal areas of visual-spatial/organizational abilities, sensory, motor coordination, social judgment, and executive functioning.
  • The child with an NLD profile can resemble other diagnoses, specifically Asperger Syndrome (AS) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD), although the crux of a non-verbal learning disability is visual-perceptual struggles coexisting with social pragmatic difficulties and attentional difficulties.
  • A non-verbal learning disability can be identified through neuropsychological testing, particularly when performance scores are significantly lower than verbal scores, with a 12 point or more discrepancy usually significant. Occupational Therapy evaluation can help determine if visual-perceptual performance is in fact an area of need, and may be significantly lower than verbal skills.

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