Five Signs Your Child Could Have Non-Verbal Learning Disorder

13_46Did you know that 2.4 million American public school students have been identified as having a learning disability? That’s approximately five percent of students! Being identified as having a learning disorder is important; once a challenge is identified, a student can receive support that helps them achieve their greatest academic potential. Unfortunately, some learning disabilities are difficult to spot, and allow many kids to slip through the cracks and not receive the help they need. One learning disability that is notoriously difficult to spot is non-verbal learning disorder (NLD or NVLD).

A child with NLD typically has excellent verbal skills; it is their non-verbal skills that are impaired. Because of this unusual combination, NLD often first appears as a strength. Since children with NLD have strong verbal skills, a large vocabulary and strong rote memory they’re often seen as precocious and classified as gifted, while their non-verbal deficits go unnoticed.

Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of non-verbal learning disorder

  • Trouble recognizing nonverbal cues such as facial expression or body language, which may create challenges bonding with peers or result in inappropriate social interactions
  • Noticeable clumsiness or poor coordination
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills (e.g., tying shoes, handwriting)
  • Trouble with higher-order comprehension (e.g., identifying the main idea of a story and supporting details)
  • Difficulty with abstract concepts; interpreting things very literally

Even though a child with NLD has excellent verbal skills, they can often 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 reading comprehensions and writing skills and help them to focus on important information and filter out trivial details.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about speech-language therapy, give us a call at (212) 308-7725 or send an e-mail to I’d be happy to chat and answer any questions you may have.

© 2016, Speech Associates of New York – All Rights Reserved
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