Nonverbal learning disability is not at all what it sounds like. It is a combination of learning, academic, social and emotional issues. Most children diagnosed with strictly academic learning disabilities, like dyslexia, do not suffer ancillary social and emotional development problems. And parents of those that do can typically tie the problems to the self-esteem issues caused by the frustration of the learning disability.
Because nonverbal learning disabilities can only be accurately diagnosed in late elementary school, the early symptoms often point to other problems. Until a pattern emerges that shows a distinct difference between analytical strengths and abstract weaknesses, the problem is difficult to diagnose. It is only in the latter grades of elementary school that geometry, reading problems and analysis of novels even enter the curriculum.
Students with NVLD, as it is sometimes called, are usually great at reading, have large vocabularies and typically excel in math in the early years. And with attention paid to individual growth, troubles in social situations and group projects don’t arise. NVLD students seem perfectly normal to the outside world, however most parents usually detect something amiss. Many times parents will say, “I thought he just lacked some street smarts”.
Instead of diving into new problems, NVLD students are normally quick to ask an adult about a new object. That is a mechanism developed in non verbal learning disability kids to help them overcome an abstract problem (analyzing something new) into an analytical problem (listening to an explanation). Tasks that cause anxiety and haven’t been overcome this way will stress NVLD students and will often reveal that a problem exists.
The causes are unknown but scientists know that failures in the right brain are related to the problem. The left brain controls the step-by-step logic and statistical problems, while the right brain handles situational analysis, deduction and abstract thinking. Problems like “what comes next in this sequence, what’s this object look like rotated and how are these objects related cause problems for left-brain thinkers. With a clear road map to the solution, NVLD sufferers must learn to buckle down and teach themselves how to think through the question.
If your child seems to have some issue that you just can’t put your finger on, contact us and let us help you determine what the real problem is. Until we completely understand the root issue, solving symptoms will last forever. When was the last time you successfully rid yourself of the mole in your yard by . . . filling in the holes with dirt?