What is Non-Verbal Learning Disorder?

Learning disorders are one of the most common difficulties seen in school age children. Almost one million children ages six through twenty-one have some sort of learning disability and receive special education in school. While some of these disorders are common and highly recognizable, there are others which can be just as detrimental, but not as easily recognized or diagnosed. Non-verbal learning disorder, or NLD, is one such disorder.

NLD can be difficult to recognize because it may first appear as a strength rather than a disability. Contrary to what the name may suggest, children with NLD have highly developed verbal skills, and will often have a vocabulary that is advanced for their age. This, combined with NLD’s characteristic strong rote memory skills, can often cause children with NLD to be classified as gifted.

However, as the child advances in school, other deficits become apparent. The child may be able to attend to detail, but fail to comprehend “the big picture.” They may present with difficulties in fine and gross motor skills. Most notably, they will display difficulty in interpreting the non-verbal cues of others (e.g. body language, intonation, facial expression). This can cause difficulty in social interactions and connecting with their peers. Academically, difficulties in organization and the understanding of abstract concepts may interfere with school work.

While it may seem counterintuitive, children with NLD can greatly benefit from the services of a speech-language pathologist or speech therapist. The speech therapist can work with the child to learn how to better understand and interpret non-verbal cues in communication and improve their interactions with others. Speech therapy will also target organizational skills to improve the child’s writing and help them to focus on important information and filter out trivial details.

Want to learn more? For more information on non-verbal learning disorder and how a speech-language pathologist can help, check out http://www.nldontheweb.org.

 If you or a loved one is having difficulty with speech, language, communication, or swallowing they may need the help of a speech therapist. Contact Speech Associates of New York today to find a professional speech-language pathologist who can help you communicate to your fullest. Remember, early intervention is the key to maintaining and developing strong communication skills. Call us today at (212) 308-7725.

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