Non-verbal Learning Disorder

Learners with this disorder usually suffer in silence

What is Non-verbal Learning Disorder?


Researchers have defined it in this way:


"Nonverbal Learning Disorder Syndrome (NVLD) is a specific type of learning disability that affects children's academic progress as well as their social and emotional development."


Non-verbal Learning Disorder is an interesting disorder because it develops throughout one's life.


Some characteristics that NLD On the Web have provided ( of the disorder are:

Academic Performance

  • WISC Verbal IQ is often higher than the Performance IQ.
  • Strong to exceptional vocabulary and more than typical verbal expression.
  • Strong to exceptional auditory rote memory skills.
  • Excellent attention to detail, but not so for the big picture.
  • The individual may be an early reader, OR may have early reading difficulties. Common 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 abtract applications.
  • Concept formation and abstract reasoning may be significantly impaired.
  • Significant difficulty generalizing information - e.g. applying learned information to new or novel situations.
  • Generally they are auditory, unimodal learners (may not look or write while processing).


Social Interaction

  • Process at a very concrete level and interpret information quite literally.
  • Significant weakness with processing nonverbal communication such as body language, facial expressions, or tone of voice.
  • Unable to intuit what is not specifically stated.
  • May present as uncooperative.
  • Tremendous difficulty with fluid or difficult social interactions.
  • Lack "street smarts" - can be incredibly naive.



  • Appear to lack coordination - do better in individual rather than team sports.
  • Impaired fine motor skills - handwriting may be poor and/or laborious.
  • Significant problems with spatial perception are common.
  • Difficulty learning to ride a bicycle, catch and/or kick a ball, hop and/or skip.



  • Anxiety and/or depression may be quite severe, especially during adolescence.
  • Individuals tend to be withdrawn by middle school, and may actually become agoraphobic.
  • Cannot readily adapt to new situations, or changes to routine.
  • Self-esteem problems are common. Increased incidence of suicide within the NLD population.


Learn more about:


  • Diagnosis: essential for determining where the breakdowns are occuring
  • Interventions: learning disorders CAN be overcome!
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