WHAT IS NONVERBAL LEARNING DISABILITY/DISORDER (NLD)?
According to the Nonverbal Learning Disorders Association, NLD is a neurological disorder which is caused by impaired reception of nonverbal information in the right hemisphere of the brain. Dr Byron P. Rourke, the world leading researcher in NLD, has found that NLD is characterised by poor motor and visual-spatial skills, leading to deficiency in perception, evaluation, organisation, and socialisation.
There has been no consensus among researchers on the cause of the disorder, but deficits in the brain's right hemisphere plays a significant role. Some suggest that using toxic substances during pregnancy (alcohol, nicotine, other additive drugs) may lead to NLD in children, but this notion is not yet empirically verified.
The reality is that NLD can easily go unnoticed and undiagnosed. The reason is that schools tend to see reading comprehension ability is the main early indicator of academic success in children. This is why NLD is less known than other learning disabilities, such as dyslexia or dyscalculia.
Tell-tales signs of NLD are revealed only when children are assessed systematically, such as poor visual-spatial perception but highly developed verbal skills with a very good memory. However, the most reliable indicator is that their Performance IQ is a lot lower than their Verbal IQ. For more information on early signs of NLD, please refer to our article here.
To date, there has been no universally accepted and formally recognized diagnosis for NLD. To clarify a typical NLD profile, researchers and clinicians have recorded neurological assets (strengths) and deficits (weakness) of individual with NLD. Most of the signs can show at as early as elementary school years. However, teachers and parents may attribute their academic, social and emotional problems to poor character, laziness and lack of focused attention. As a result, as their weaknesses evolve with age, these individuals can face more emotional problems such as anxiety or phobia and face social withdrawal.
The following video was created by the NVLD Project founder, Dr. Laura Lemle, who hosted a round table discussion with experts in learning disabilities from the Columbia University Medical Center. The discussion mentioned what NLD is, the differences between NLD and other diagnosis.