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People with Non-Verbal Learning Disability (NLD or NVLD) may struggle with a range of conditions that include social and spatial disabilities. Often they are marginalized and isolated; consequently, they can experience social barriers throughout their lives.

A significant discrepancy between verbal comprehension and perceptual reasoning abilities, in which verbal skills are greater than perceptual skills, is a necessary feature to make the NVLD diagnosis, but it is not sufficient in the absence of sustained academic, professional, social, and emotional difficulties.

Children with NVLD have strengths in verbal reasoning, such as a well-developed vocabulary, rote learning skills, strong factual recall when information is presented without context, and remembering concrete details from a story. In contrast, they have trouble understanding the “big picture” and identifying the main idea in a narrative. Children with NVLD also struggle with life skills that require an understanding of spatial relationships, such as recognizing how parts fit together into a whole, completing jigsaw puzzles and building with blocks, learning routes for travel, and manipulating objects in space.

Children with NVLD may struggle with:

  • Gross motor activities like throwing a ball or riding a bike
  • Fine motor activities like cutting or letter formation
  • Understanding charts and diagrams like maps and graphs
  • Organizing their thoughts and materials
  • Sensory integration, either overstimulation or a need for more stimulation

You can learn more about NVLD here.

NVLD may be indicated when a child struggles with:

  • Handling novel problem-solving situations
  • Interacting with peers and processing social signals
  • Difficulties with math especially understanding fractions, geometric shapes, and sometimes word problems
  • Staying focused
  • Making a plan for how to approach a new task
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