Nonverbal Learning Disability

NVLD is a brain-based disorder and is believed to be a problem of processing differences in the left and right hemispheres of the brain. The main symptom is difficulties with social skills and relationships. Approximately 90% of communication is nonverbal, and only 10% is verbal. Individuals with NVLD have visual-spatial difficulties preventing them from being able to effectively process nonverbal communication (facial expressions and body language). Relying solely on words to navigate their world, they can talk too much and share inappropriate personal information. They simply don’t understand that communication isn’t exclusively verbal. Interpreting words literally causes them to misunderstand conversations and the actions of others. As a result, they are often easily led, naive, and gullible.

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Signs in Individuals with NVLD

  • Weak motor skills
  • Poor understanding of math concepts and operations.
  • Trouble interpreting facial expressions and body language.
  • Difficulties with fine motor skills: tying shoes, using scissors, writing.
  • Get lost easily and are often late.
  • Trouble understanding directional concepts.
  • Poor coordination and gross motor skills: clumsy, drops things, bumps into people and objects.
  • Resist changes in routines and transitions.
  • Rigid thinking (cognitively inflexible).
  • Literal interpretation of language; don’t get jokes.
  • Very well spoken, presenting an illusion of higher-level competencies.


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