Nonverbal Learning Disorders

A nonverbal learning disorder (NLD) is a developmental condition associated with dysfunction in the right cerebral hemisphere. Children with NLD have several strengths including auditory perceptual ability, receptive language, vocabulary, verbal expression, rote verbal memory and attention to small details; however, they also have been linked to various challenges (e.g., reading comprehension, pragmatic communication, math ability, abstract reasoning, coordination and psychomotor skills, social communication, trouble perceiving facial gestures and other nonverbal cues and difficulty adapting to changes and new situations).

Children with NLD and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have several commonalities. Those with either condition often have difficulty making and keeping friends and understanding nonverbal signals in social situations. However, children with NLD typically learn language at a normal pace and have broader interests than children with ASD (Torppa, 2009). In addition, research suggests that in contrast to children with NLD, children with ASD fail to exhibit a consistent pattern of visual-spatial and nonverbal difficulties, suggesting that the two types of disorders have different cognitive profiles.

A comprehensive assessment helps in differentiating the two conditions and, more importantly, in successful intervention planning. It will educate the child about his/her strengths (self-esteem challenges are common with both conditions), as well as how to use them to best perform at school and in life.

Other Types of Pediatric Assessments