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Non Verbal learning disability symptoms

May 09,2017 12:38 PM
Non Verbal learning disability symptoms

Non verbal learning disability (NLD) is the most ignored and under-diagnosed learning disability. NLD is a brain based condition and non verbal learning disability symptoms can show up as early as preschool. NLD are also called right hemisphere learning disorders. Educators often label these as problem children. They tend to ignore evidence of non-verbal deficiencies in students. There is inadequate awareness about underlying causes for the difficulties these students encounter in school. Finding a professional who understands non verbal learning disabilities is difficult. These students are often labelled behavior problems or emotionally disturbed because of their frequent inappropriate and unexpected conduct. NLD has a neurological rather than deliberate or emotional origin.

[Read: Learning disabilities symptoms in children]

NLD syndrome reveals itself in impaired abilities to organize the visual spatial field, adapt to new and novel situations or accurately read non verbal signals and cues. It appears more like reverse symptom of dyslexia. Although there is academic progress and ample other developmental milestones that are accomplished, but the child will have difficulty in producing situations where speed and adaptability are required. Whereas language based learning disorders have been found to be genetic. Non verbal learning disabilities involve performance processes. Brain scans of NLD kids often confirm mild abnormalities of right cerebral hemisphere.

Children with NLD have the below causes:

NLD causes

1- Have sustained a moderate to severe head injury
2- Received repeated radiation treatments on or near their heads over a prolonged period of time
3- Congenital absence of the corpus callosum
4- Been treated for hydrocephalus
5- Actually had brain tissue removed from their right hemisphere

Current theories suggest early damage including disease, disorder or dysfunction of right cerebral hemisphere and diffuse white matter disease which leaves left hemisphere system to function on its own is the major cause of NLD syndrome.

[Read: Camps for special needs children]

Non verbal learning disability symptoms:

1- Motoric:


  • The child has poor psycho motor coordination
  • Motor clumsiness is the first concern for parents
  • More noticeable problems on left side of the body as recognizable difference in dominant and non dominant side
  • Avoidance of crossing body midline
  • Later in school problem of dysgraphia and impaired tactile discrimination disabilities including finger agnosia.
  • Lack of motor control results in social rejection. NLD child is constantly getting in the way, bumping into other people and objects and generally unaware of position in space his body encompasses
  • Increased risk of personal injury along with spatial misconceptions
  • Reluctant to walk due to extreme vacillations and clinging to objects or people to gain stabilization
  • Fear of heights and not even climbing on slides
  • The child receives little benefit from sensorimotor period of development, which hinders her development of higher order concept formation and problem solving abilities.
  • Delay in setting equilibrium when set down, as body does not resume balance due to non integration of CNS. This faulty balance perception will make riding a bike impossible for the child.
  • The child topples more from table chair and needs extra determination to remain seated on chair
  • The child prefers to do school assignments on floor where they sense more support and security
  • Simple athletic skills cannot be mastered in childhood.
  • Lack of dexterity and fine 1 suffer
  • Tying a shoe lace takes years
  • NLD child may have fine handwriting but the process of being able to write takes too long

2- Visual-spatial-organizational:

Visual spatial organizational

  • Problems with spatial perceptions, spatial relations, recognition, organization and synthesis of visual-spatial information.
  • The child does not form visual images, and therefore cannot revisualize anything.
  • Failure to grasp the total picture as the child sees only details of everything
  • Experiences are stored in memory by verbal labels and not visual images. And the child will have poor memory for novel or complex material which cannot be verbally coded.
  • Intense forethought is applied to label everything he comes into contact. They maybe labelled incorrectly but this is the only way the child can process information.
  • He does not form visual images which help us all to recognize and comprehend anything.
  • This child naturally is not drawn to building and construction toys
  • Cant form a holistic view of the details memorized in an integrated fashion
  • Often this child has problems in aligning columns, numbers and observing directionality.
  • The child with NLD often talks himself through situations as a means of verbally compensating for his motoric and visual spatial deficiencies.
  • A new variable in a fairly constant situation makes the child anxious and disrupts his coping strategies.
  • The child has difficulty in visual memory and visual-sequential memory

[Read: Celebrities with learning disabilities]

3- Social:


  • Deficit in social awareness and social judgement
  • Often misinterpreted as annoying or attention seeking behavior.
  • Social competence disabilities often lead NLD child to be overdependent on adults.
  • Visual spatial organizational deficits cause him to be ineffective at recognizing faces, interpreting gestures and reading facial expressions.
  • Physical proximity and distance are also not perceived
  • Changes in tone and pitch of voice are undistinguished by NLD kids.
  • The child with NLD naively trusts everyone and does not embrace the concept of dishonesty. He does not understand when he is being lied to.
  • He thinks of intention of others being what they are exhibited
  • NLD child is very concrete and everything is black or white to him, hidden meanings have to be explained to him

Non Verbal learning disability

The above compilation on Non Verbal learning disability symptoms is based on readings and learnings overtime. Most often these NLD symptoms are ignored and the child suffers as being called problem child. There must be adequate diagnosis done for detecting NLD early on and help the child lead a normal healthy life. Check campnavigator for some of the most exclusive special needs camp. To help your child with an enriching summer.

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By Minu Manisha

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