6 common myths about nonverbal learning disabilities

Nonverbal learning disabilities (NVLD) are often the cause of confusion. People with NVLD actually have strong verbal skills, yet they still struggle to communicate and connect with others. If you’re new to the topic, this might not make much sense! We can help. Here are six common myths about nonverbal learning disabilities.

Myth #1: Because they’re so verbal, kids with NVLD don’t struggle in school.

Fact: It’s true that kids with NVLD tend to be talkative and have a large vocabulary. They can also remember a lot of information and enjoy sharing it. But it’s not an academic advantage to have a nonverbal learning disability. While there are lots of ways to help kids with NVLD at school, NVLD can create obstacles related to spatial skills, organization, and understanding abstract information. Kids with NVLD may also struggle with math, scientific concepts, and .

Myth #2: Kids with NVLD don’t pay attention.

Fact: When kids don’t follow your instructions for making pancakes or skip several steps on a school project, it can seem like they’re not trying hard or aren’t paying attention. In fact, it’s not unusual for teachers or doctors to initially suspect that a child with NVLD has ADHD. Kids with NVLD, though, are actually paying close attention to what’s going on around them. They just have trouble separating important from unimportant information. They process each piece of information as it comes in, instead of sifting through it for what’s most relevant. That makes it hard for them to stay organized and follow directions.

Myth #3: Kids with NVLD are just being stubborn.

Fact: Children with NVLD do tend to resist change and stick to routines. They’ll insist on taking the same route to school and playing the same position in sports. But what might look like stubbornness to some is actually a coping mechanism. Because they have trouble picking out important information, they can experience “information overload” if faced with a new way of doing something. Routines make life easier for kids with NVLD, so it’s understandable that they resist change.

Myth #4: Kids outgrow NVLD.

Fact: Although trouble with motor coordination and social skills may look like “growing pains,” kids with NVLD don’t outgrow these challenges. NVLD and the issues that come with it will remain throughout adulthood. NVLD might appear to go away, though, as children get older and learn to cope. For instance, motor skills training and social skills training can help kids with NVLD relate better to others and build self-esteem.

Myth #5: Kids with NVLD don’t like sports.

Fact: Kids with NVLD might really enjoy sports. Unfortunately, they often have difficulty with gross motor skills. This prevents them from making smooth, coordinated movements. Because sports activities are much harder for them, they may become anxious about gym class and avoid playing sports altogether. If your child has NVLD and is interested in sports, explore sports for kids who have trouble with motor skills and sports for kids who struggle with social skills.

Myth #6: Kids with NVLD don’t try hard enough to make friends and fit in.

Fact: No matter how hard they try to connect, kids with NVLD often lack key social skills needed to easily make and keep friends. They may not recognize that a shy classmate who’s smiling is trying to initiate a conversation. They may also misread another child’s aloof tone of voice as an invitation to play. Social skills training and other options can help them to better see and understand social cues.


Read next