How You Can Help Your Child Who Has An NVLD (Non-Verbal Learning Disability)

Concrete steps you can take to help your child who has an NVLD (Non-Verbal Learning Disability).

The following link has more information about what an NVLD is.

Your child has a Non-Verbal Learning Disability, now what?

Do not assume he should "already know” something, as he has difficulty inferring social cues, rules, and routines. Provide repetition and explicit written instructions as often as possible; pair idioms and figurative language with their literal meanings.

Educate yourself and others about the disability.

Here are some of my favorite resources:

  • Information about differential diagnoses and home and school tips from About Our Kids.

  • Information about the neurology of individuals with NVLD from LD Online.

  • Parent Tips from the Integra Foundation.

  • A case study and some tips from Additude Magazine.

For help with social situations:

  • Explicitly discuss with him what different facial expressions mean.

  • As people with NVLD often have difficulty with prosody — i.e. patterns of rhythm used in speech — practice saying the same sentence with different types of intonation (e.g. sarcastically, excitedly, etc.) to alert him to the differences in meaning.

  • Provide safe online opportunities for him to communicate with peers, where communication is verbal (and there are no facial expressions or tones of voice to decode).

  • Point out if he exhibits rude behavior, doesn’t take a turn, or participates in a conversation inappropriately, and then explain how others might interpret that.

  • Consider enrolling him in a local social skills group.

For help with visual-spatial reasoning:

  • Practice going places with him (e.g. walking to school).

  • Ask his teachers to assign him a buddy who has all the same classes, so he can follow that child.

  • Encourage the use of his phone’s navigation system, if it has one.

For help with organization:

  • Color code all school material.

  • Provide a planner to keep track of daily activities and tasks.

For help with fine motor tasks:

  • Consider typing or dictation software.

  • Consult with an Occupational Therapist.

For help with emotions and novel situations:

  • Go on tours of places before your child needs to go there, and introduce him to new people (e.g. new school, after school program, or neighborhood).

  • Allow for questions before novel situations, to ease his anxiety.

  • Consult a social worker or psychologist to see if Cognitive Behavior Therapy would be appropriate for your child.

Each of these steps will go a long way in helping your child cope with his learning difficulty.

Sources:

Child Study Center (2000). Nonverbal Learning Disabilities. Child Study Center Newsletter 4 (5).

Grossberg, B. (2012) Asperger’s Rules: How to Make Sense of School and Friends. Washington DC: Magination Press.

Integra Staff. Nonverbal Learning Disabilities: Tips for Parents.

Mahlke, A. (2010). Nonverbal Learning Disorder..

Scherer, P. (1998). Is It ADHD or Nonverbal Learning Disorder? ADDitude Magazine.

Thompson, S. (1996). Nonverbal Learning Disorder.

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