About Nonverbal Learning Disabilities
The very name is misleading. Despite the name, these children have superior verbal skills. Their difficulties lie in interpreting nonverbal cues and the subtleties of speech such as facial expression, body language, inferences and sarcasm. On a WISC there will be a marked discrepancy between the verbal score and the performance score.
Children with a nonverbal learning disability often struggle with writing and note taking, social skills, some aspects of math such as geometry and pattern replication, poor coordination, difficulties with fine motor skills and difficulty adjusting to new situations and making transitions.
Unlike language-based learning disabilities that can be detected in the early years, most children with NLD are not diagnosed until Grade 3 or later. Another difference is that NLD gets worse with age, as more of our language because nonverbal and there is more emphasis placed on social skills.
Social difficulties consistent with NLD:
- Difficulty making and keeping friends.
- Inappropriate social behaviours that are seen as “weird”.
- Unsuitable conversation.
- Lack of understanding of personal space, boundary and privacy issues.
- Difficulty maintaining social conversation.
- Fixation on certain topics or interests that are not “normal” for their age.
- Often humour is lost on them as they interpret language literally.
- Sarcasm and threats are lost on them.
- Difficulty seeing someone else’s perspective which is often seen as a lack of empathy.
- Naively trusting of others.
- Does not embrace the concept of dishonesty.
- Has trouble recognizing lying and deception in other children.
Sees everything in black and white – true and false.
Needs a strict routine and has difficulty with change