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Nonverbal Learning Disorders . Yet, it has been found that more than 6. We are all familiar with . Although intelligence measures are designed to evaluate both the verbal and nonverbal aspects of intelligence, educators tend to ignore evidence of nonverbal deficiencies in students. Or worse, they brand students with nonverbal learning disabilities as . The competence of an individual, in our present- day society, is most often judged by their verbal proficiencies.
A person who speaks eloquently and has a well- developed vocabulary tends to be accorded more credibility than an individual who makes constant grammatical errors and demonstrates a limited vocabulary. A student who has innate difficulties reading, spelling, and/or expressing herself stands out in most classroom situations. And likewise, a student who is a top reader, achieves excellent spelling scores, and expresses herself articulately usually does not prompt her teacher to consider a learning disorder.
But, this is often exactly the presentation a child with nonverbal learning disabilities (NLD) syndrome manifests in the early elementary grades. Nonverbal learning disorders (also called . Overall, there has been an inadequate awareness of the underlying causes for the difficulties these students encounter in school. There are currently few resources available for the child with NLD syndrome through schools or private agencies. It is still difficult to find a professional who understands nonverbal learning disabilities. These children are often labeled .
It appears to be the reverse syndrome of dyslexia. Although academic progress is made, such a student will have difficulty .
Whereas language- based learning disorders have been shown to be genetic in origin, heredity has not, as yet, been linked to NLD. It is known that nonverbal learning disabilities involve the performance processes (generally thought of neurologically as originating in the right cerebral hemisphere of the brain, which specializes in nonverbal processing). Brain scans of individuals with NLD often confirm mild abnormalities of the right cerebral hemisphere. Developmental histories have revealed that a number of the children suffering from nonverbal learning disorders who have come to clinical attention have at some time early in their development: (1) 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, or (5) actually had brain tissue removed from their right hemisphere.
All of these neurological insults involve significant destruction of white matter (long myelinated fibers in the brain) connections in the right hemisphere, which are important for intermodal integration. Hence, current evidence and theories suggest that early damage (disease, disorder, or dysfunction) of the right cerebral hemisphere and/or diffuse white matter disease, which leaves the left hemisphere (unimodal) system to function on its own, is the contributing cause of the NLD syndrome (definitely not dysfunctional home lives).
Clinically, this learning disorder classification resembles an adult patient with a severe head injury to the right cerebral hemisphere, both symptomatically and behaviorally. Nonverbal learning disorders appear much less frequently than language- based learning disorders. Whereas it is approximated that about 1.
NLD (or between 1. Unlike language- based learning disabilities, the NLD syndrome affects females as often as males (approximately 1: 1 sex ratio) and incidence of left- handedness is uncommon. Even though NLD is, by definition, a . The low rate of occurrence (as low as 1 out of 1,0.
The symptoms are distinct and display themselves early in a child's development. The discovery of the NLD syndrome began in the early 1. IQs. It is unfortunate that 2. Since diminished access to and/or disordered functioning of the right- hemisphere systems impedes all understanding and adaptive learning, it is fair to say (as Helmer R. Myklebust did in 1.
Still, nonverbal learning disorders remain predominantly misunderstood and largely go unrecognized. A child's earliest mode of communication should be nonverbal. Both parents and teachers will often suspect that .
More often than not, parents are assured that everything is fine; perhaps their child is . She may have had extreme difficulty learning to ride a bike or to kick a soccer ball. Fine motor skills, such as cutting with scissors or tying shoe laces, seem to be impossible for this child to master.
A young child with NLD is less likely to explore her environment motorically because she cannot rely upon her kinesthetic processing and spatial perceptions. This child learns little from experience or repetition and is unable to generalize information. In the early years, such a child may appear .
Closer observation will reveal a social ineptness brought about by misinterpretations of body language and/or tone of voice. This child is unable to . If a child is constantly admonished with the words, . The child's verbal processing may be proficient, but it can be impossible for her to receive and comprehend nonverbal information. Such a child will cope by relying upon language as her principal means of social relating, information gathering, and relief from anxiety. As a result, she is constantly being told, . Since the nonverbal processing area of his brain is not giving him the needed automatic feedback, he relies solely upon his memory of past experiences, each of which he has labeled verbally, to guide him in future situations.
This, of course, is less effective and less reliable than being able to sense and interpret another person's social cues (because of the vast array of differences in human nature). Cumbersome monologues are another trait of a child with nonverbal learning disabilities. Normal conversational . Teachers complain of a child who . A child with NLD uses all of her concentration and attention to merely get through a room. Imagine the frustration produced when attempting to function in a complicated and/or new social situation.
Owing to her inability to . Overestimates of the child's abilities and unrealistic demands made by parents and teachers can lead to ongoing emotional problems. A favorable prognosis seems to depend upon early identification and accommodation. The child with NLD is particularly inclined toward seriously debilitating forms of internalizing psychopathology, such as depression, withdrawal, anxiety, and in some cases, suicide. Dr. Rourke of the University of Windsor and his associates have found that nonverbal learning disabilities . After amassing years of embarrassing and misconceived unintentional social blunders, it is not too difficult to comprehend how a person with nonverbal learning disorders could come to the conclusion that his environment is not structured to accommodate him. Identifying nonverbal learning disorders.
Whereas language- based disabilities are usually readily apparent to parents and educators, nonverbal learning disorders routinely go unrecognized. Many of the early symptoms of nonverbal learning disabilities instill pride, rather than alarm, in parents and teachers who ordinarily applaud language- based accomplishments. This child is extremely verbose and may . During early childhood, he is usually considered . Sometimes the child with NLD has a history of hyperlexia (rote reading at a very young age).
This child is generally an eager, enthusiastic learner who quickly memorizes rote material, only serving to reinforce the notion of his precocity. Extraordinary early speech and vocabulary development are not often suspected to be a coping strategy being employed by a child who has a very deficient right- hemisphere system and limited access to her nonverbal processing abilities. The child with NLD is also likely to acquire an unusual aptitude for producing . Likewise, remarkable rote memory skills, attention to detail, and a natural facility for decoding, encoding, and early reading development do not generally cause red flags to go up. Yet, these are some of the important early indicators that a child is having difficulty relating to and functioning in her world nonverbally, and a warning that she has developed an excessive reliance upon her verbal strengths.
Dr. Rourke and his associates have found that the dysfunctions associated with NLD are . This child produces limited written output and the process is always slow and laborious for him. When the skills for organizing and developing written work don't advance at the expected rate for this student, finally the red flags go up. However, by this time, the child may have already . If a child has right hemispheric dysfunction, deficits in these areas should be quite evident to an observer during the child's early years, despite his valiant efforts to compensate for them.
The more novel the psychomotor, visual- spatial, and/or social situation, the more evident his impairments will be. Following are some of the early adjustment problems to be aware of in each category. Motoric: This child generally has a history of poor psycho- motor coordination. Motor clumsiness is often the first concern his parents observe.
There may be a recognizable difference between the dominant and non- dominant sides of the body with more noticeable problems on the left side of the body. He will avoid crossing his body midline. Later, in school, he may exhibit problems with dysgraphia and impaired tactile- discrimination abilities, including finger agnosia.
His lack of motor control can manifest in social rejection, as this child is constantly . In addition to social ostracism, his motor disabilities (along with spatial misconceptions) put him at an increased risk for personal injury.
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