What is it?

Nonverbal learning disability is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by core deficits in visual-spatial processing in the presence of intact verbal ability.

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Additional names

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Signs & symptoms

Considered to be neurologically based, nonverbal learning disorder is characterized by:
* impairments in visuospatial processing
* discrepancy between Average to Superior verbal abilities and impaired nonverbal abilities such as:
- visuoconstruction
- fine motor coordination
- mathematical reasoning
- visuospatial memory
- socioemotional skills


Nonverbal learning disability (NVLD) is characterized by core deficits in visualspatial processing in the presence of intact verbal ability. Additional diagnostic criteria include Average to Superior verbal intelligence and deficits in visuoconstruction abilities, fine-motor coordination, mathematical reasoning, visuospatial memory and social skills.


There is no standard treatment approach for NLD, since so little is known about the condition. As with ADHD, education about NLD is key for all who work with your child. Social-emotional learning (reading body language, tone of voice, protocols), executive function training (to develop deficient processing skills), and physical therapy can help children manage NLD symptoms.
Unlike other learning disabilities, NLD isn’t covered under IDEA. So, even with a formal diagnosis, your child may not qualify for an IEP or 504 Plan from her school unless she has another diagnosis or disability. This doesn’t mean your child is ineligible for extra help, however. Useful formal or informal accommodations include social skills groups, occupational therapy, and time-management strategies.
Parents also need support to understand their child’s behaviors. Talk therapy has its place in a treatment plan, but it doesn’t teach parents, children, or adults the skills to manage moment-to-moment situations at home or at work. Behavioral parent training (BPT) gives parents the tools to better meet their child’s needs. Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) may help some individuals.
Adults who grew up without an NLD diagnosis may feel unsure about effective treatment strategies, or whether treatment will even help. But occupational therapy and social skills training are available for adults, too, and simple workplace accommodations can help to compensate for common challenges. Something as simple as asking a colleague to take notes for you at a staff meeting may help someone who struggles to listen and write at the same time.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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