By Erica Patino
The lingo that learning specialists use when describing nonverbal learning disabilities can be confusing. Here are some key terms and phrases to help you understand nonverbal learning issues.
Forms of communication that aren’t just words. They include facial expressions, body language and tone of voice. Kids with NVLD often miss or misread these cues. They tend to have trouble with playful or nonliteral uses of words and get tripped up by things like sarcasm, puns or irony.
The ability to fit in socially and bond with other people. Social competency depends on having a strong set of social skills, including initiating conversations, taking turns and accurately reading social cues.
Reaching milestones—such as taking a first step or speaking clearly—late. Delays in reaching early milestones are often correlated with delays in the development of future motor, cognitive (thinking) and language skills.
The type of thinking that helps to process, analyze and draw conclusions from information. Kids who are weak in this area may be able to successfully read a paragraph out loud but have trouble explaining what it means.
The ability to coordinate and carry out movement. Activities that require fine motor skills (small movements) include handwriting, typing and cutting with scissors. Activities that require gross motor skills (large movements) include kicking, throwing, catching and running.
The ability to understand where two things are in relation to each other in a physical space. Spatial skills help with tasks like reading maps, telling time, understanding abstract concepts in math and science and sensing physical proximity (such as knowing how close to get to a soccer ball to be able to kick it and how close to stand to a classmate without making him feel uncomfortable).
Your child’s ability to remember what she’s heard. Kids with NVLD have a sharp memory for spoken information and a large vocabulary. But they may not discuss it in a socially appropriate way or know which parts to share. Social skills classes may help your child learn to sort through information and only share what’s relevant and appropriate.
If your child has trouble with writing, sending traditional thank-you cards may feel like a chore to him. Consider these alternatives to written notes. (Kids without writing issues may enjoy these fun options, too.)
You may already know that dysgraphia is a brain-based condition that makes the physical act of writing difficult. Understanding the terms your child’s school and doctors use can make it easier to help your child get the support he needs.
Erica Patino is an online writer and editor who specializes in health and wellness content.
Mark Griffin, Ph.D., was the founding headmaster of Eagle Hill School, a school for children with specific learning disabilities.
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