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RadKid.Org: Symptoms of Nonverbal Learning Disorder

  • Criteria 1: A Statistically Uncommon Phenomenon
    • The difference between various intellectual skills within the same brain.
    • Ability with language related tasks is significantly better than their abilities on non-language testing.
  • Criteria 2: Impact on the Child?s Life
    • Math - Often the child will achieve in math during the early grades, struggling in the later primary school grades. The problem is in math concepts, in that they have difficulty understanding what the operation is trying to achieve, instead relying on a step-by-step process.
    • Handwriting - Getting thoughts onto paper can be a problem from the start. The NLD child has trouble automating letter function, organizing the letters and words on paper, and planning the process of putting their thoughts into words and sentences.
    • Organization - Children with NLD have trouble seeing large jobs in terms of being made up of several small tasks. Cleaning the room, for example, might be overwhelming while they may be able to pick up the dirty clothes without difficulty. They also have trouble keeping the large job in mind as they work through its smaller components.
    • Attention - Some NLD children have trouble maintaining attention, although to some this is limited to situations which are too difficult or boring.
    • Socialization - Frequently, NLD kids are very good at socializing in the early years. As with their problems with math, they tend to struggle only after the social demands exceed their abilities. In particular, they have trouble understanding such non-verbal communication as facial expression, body language, tone of voice, and choice of words. Consequently, they miss the emotional states behind the words, and do not pick up on subtle messages such as sarcasm.
    • Anxiety and Fear - Although NLD children can communicate verbally with ease, their understanding of the world is limited and, as a result, they feel confusion in social situations. As NLD children become adolescents and adults, management of anxiety becomes a primary need.
    • Non-Verbal Thinking - For most people, much of our thinking is non-verbal. At times, we may know what is wrong yet struggle to put this understanding into words. For the NLD child, the situation is reversed. They may have trouble with concepts of time, money, and weather. Others might get lost easily, have trouble with maps, and have difficulty in athletic games where direction and movement are important.
    • Motor Coordination - Some children with NLD are uncoordinated, while others may simply have difficulty in team situations where there is continuous and complex information about people and directions to be understood.

  • Criteria 3: No Alternative Explanation
    • Eliminate other possible explanations, such as:
      ADHD, which could lead to many signs and symptoms similar to that of NLD.
    • Intellectual Disability - Sometimes when a child is very clever verbally, his or her intelligence may be overestimated.
    • Anxiety or Abuse - Children who are anxious due to abuse might have some of the same difficulties as children with NLD.
    • Lack of Opportunity to Learn - Difficulties in math may be due to a child having never had the opportunity to learn the basics.
    • Asperger Syndrome - Children with Asperger syndrome have similar socialization difficulties as do NLD children, although children with Asperger syndrome are not as prone to have difficulties in math, handwriting, or organization.
    • Semantic-Pragmatic Language Disorder - A language problem where complex language is impaired, leading to problems in comprehension and socialization similar to that seen in NLD, although these children are not as likely to have difficulties in math, handwriting, organization, and attention.
  • Criteria 4: A Consistent Pattern
    • Children with NLD will show a consistent picture of developmental disorder over time. This can be tricky, as they often use their language skills to compensate for their other weaknesses, particularly in the early grades.

Last Modified on: Saturday, August 08, 2009




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