Learning Disorders: What to Look For
Author: Pamela B. Tanguay
Source: MAAP Services
for Autism and Asperger Syndrome
As you review the characteristics
outlined within this article, please keep in mind that many of the
characteristics listed under one heading may, and often do, impact the
individual in many areas of their lives. The hallmark of those diagnosed with
NLD appears to be their fear, and sometimes terror, of any novel situation.
- Generally the individualís
WISC VIQ is higher than their PIQ, but not in all cases.
- There is an excellent
vocabulary and more than typical verbal expression, starting at a young
- Exceptional rote memory
skills are quite common, and may mask the disability in early education.
- There is excellent attention
to detail, but the individual will likely miss the big picture.
- The individual may be an
early reader, OR may have early reading difficulties. However, in either
case, there is generally difficulty with reading comprehension beginning
in the upper elementary grades, especially for novel material.
- Difficulties in math are
common, especially in the areas of word problems and abstract
- Concept formation and
abstract reasoning may be significantly impaired.
- There is likely to be great
difficulty generalizing information - applying learned information to
- Generally their strongest
learning medium is auditory - if they hear it, they will remember it.
- Physical awkwardness is quite
common - they appear to lack coordination. As a youngster, the
individual does better in individual rather than team sports.
- Fine motor skills may be
impaired - handwriting may be poor and/or laborious. However,
handwriting often improves with age.
- Significant problems with
spatial perception are quite common.
- Physical difficulties are
generally more pronounced on the left side of body.
- There is difficulty learning
to ride a bicycle, catch and/or kick a ball, hop and/or skip.
- These individuals are very
concrete and interpret information quite literally.
- Normally, they do not process
or benefit from nonverbal communication - body language, facial
expressions, tone of voice may be lost on them.
- They are unable to intuit or
read between the lines.
- Generally, these individuals
have poor social skills. They will most likely have trouble making
and/or keeping friends
- Anxiety and/or depression are
very common, especially during adolescence. This problem may be quite
- Often these individuals
suffer from low self-esteem.
- It is quite common for them
to be withdrawn, and they may actually become agoraphobic.
- In all likelihood, they will
have tremendous difficulty adjusting to new situations, or changes to
- These individuals generally
appear to lack common sense, or "street smarts" - they can be
- There is a higher than normal
incidence of suicide within the NLD population.
Helping the Child Who Doesnít Fit
Stephen Nowicki and Marshall Duke, 1992, Peachtree
Itís Nobodyís Fault,
Harold S. Koplewicz, 1996, Times Books division of
Random House, NY
Nonverbal Learning Disabilities: The
Syndrome and the Model,
Byron P. Rourke, 1989, The
Guilford Press, NY
No One to Play With: The Social Side
of Learning Disabilities,
Betty B. Osman, 1982, Random House, NY
Star Shaped Pegs, Square Holes,
Kathy Allen, Unicycle Press, 1076 Lynn St., Livermore, CA 94550.
Syndrome of Nonverbal Learning
Disabilities: Neurodevelopmental manifestations,
B.P. Rourke (Ed.), 1995, The Guilford Press, NY
Teaching Your Child the Language of
Marshall P. Duke, Stephen Nowicki, Jr., and Elisabeth
A. Martin, 1996, Peachtree Publishers, GA
The Source for Nonverbal Learning
Disorders (formerly called "I Shouldnít Have to Tell
you! A Guide to Understanding Nonverbal Learning Disorders"),
Sue Thompson, M.A., C.E.T., 1997, LinguiSystems Inc
When You Worry About the Child You
Love: Emotional and Learning Problems in Children,
Edward Hallowell, 1996, Simon & Schuster, NY
syndrome and semantic-pragmatic disorder: Where are the boundaries?
D.V.M. Bishop, 1989, British Journal of Disorders of
Communications, Vol. 24, pgs. 107-121.
syndrome: Clinical spectrum of the nonverbal learning disability,
V. Gross-Tsur, R.S. Shalev,
O. Manor & N. Amir, 1995, Journal of Learning Disabilities, Vol. 28, No. 2,
learning disabilities and remedial interventions,
J.M.Foss, 1991, Annals of Dyslexia, Vol. 41, pgs. 128-140.
Nonverbal learning disabilities, Aspergerís syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder --
should we care?
R.A.Brumback, C.R.Harper, W.A.Weinberg,
1996, Journal of Child Neurology, Vol. 11, No. 6, pgs. 427-429.
Nonverbal Learning Disorders,
S.Thompson, 1997, Fall/Winter edition of The Gram,
for the Child with NLD,
B.P. Rourke, 1993, Byron P. Rourke,
Ph.D., Dept. of Psychology, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada N9B
Validity and neuropsychological
characterization of Asperger syndrome: convergence
with nonverbal learning disabilities syndrome,
A.Klin, F.R.Volkmar, S.S.Sparrow, D.V.Cicchetti, B.P. Rourke, 1995,
Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol. 36 (7), pgs. 1127-1140.
Assessing and Diagnosing the Individual with Nonverbal Learning Disorders
(audiotape) lecturer: Diane Kosters, PhD, from the
Nonverbal Learning Disorders Symposium, California, 1996.
Educational Interventions for the
Child with Nonverbal Learning Disorders (audiotape) lecturers:
Sue Thompson, MA, CET and Judith Paton, MA, from the Nonverbal Learning
Disorders Symposium, California, 1996.
Making Sense of Non-Verbal Learning
Disabilities (transcript), lecturer: Ray Petrauskas,
Annual Conference of the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario, 1995
Psychological Interventions for the
Child with Nonverbal Learning Disorders (audiotape) lecturer: Kathryn Stewart,
PhD, from the Nonverbal Learning Disorders Symposium, California, 1996.
Social Skills Training for Nonverbal
lecturers: Maria Antoniadis, PhD and Kathryn McCarthy, PhD, from the Nonverbal
Learning Disorders Symposium, California, 1996.
The Nonverbal Disabilities: Dense, Dyslogic, Self-Defeating (transcript),
lecturers: Dr. Eleanor Westhead, Dr. Jane Blalock,
Dr. Kay Noel Gregg, International Conference of the Learning Disabilities
Association of America, 1990.
Advocating for the Individual with
Nonverbal Learning Disorders (audiotape), lecturers:
Sarah Clarke, Esq. and Maria Antoniadis, PhD, from the Nonverbal Learning
Disorders Symposium, California, 1996 The
Hand, Handwriting, and the Child
with Nonverbal Learning Disorders (audiotape),
lecturer: Peg Bledsoe, MA, OTR, FAOTA, Pediatric Occupational Therapist, from
the Nonverbal Learning Disorders Symposium California, 1996.
Publication Release: July 26, 2007