Nonverbal learning disabilities

Nonverbal Learning Disabilities: What You’re Seeing in Your High-Schooler

By Erica Patino

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High-schoolers have to interact with others on a more sophisticated level than younger kids do. Nonverbal learning disabilities (NVLD) can make that challenging. The following signs are typical of NVLD, but some may occur with other issues, such as ADHD or Asperger’s syndrome.

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Nonverbal learning disabilities: what you're seeing in your high schooler.

Socializing can be a challenge for teens with nonverbal learning disabilities (NVLD). Learning new routines for a school activity or a part-time job can cause a lot of stress, too. Here’s what you might be seeing.

Thinks People Dislike Him
At home: Your child is often angry or upset and thinks you’re always mad at him.
At school: Your child is anxious around other students and isn’t sure how they feel about him.
The issue: Kids with NVLD may misread other people’s emotions and responses, especially in unstructured situations.

Avoids His Peers
At home: Your child hangs out with younger cousins at family events instead of the ones his own age.
At school: Your child won’t join any afterschool clubs and activities, even ones that interest him.
The issue: Kids with NVLD know they’re socially awkward by this age. They might avoid situations that could be stressful or embarrassing.

Develops Inflexible Routines
At home: Your child insists on wearing one specific pair of shoes until they’re worn out.
At school: You child asks the definition of every unknown word on a page. He may be the last one to finish his classroom assignment.
The issue: Kids with NVLD often develop routines and behaviors that help relieve anxiety.

Seems Scattered
At home: Your child goes grocery shopping but doesn’t get everything on the shopping list.
At school: Your child’s in-class essays are poorly organized.
The issue: Kids with NVLD tend to have weak organizational skills.
Graphic of Nonverbal learning disabilities: What you're seeing in your high schooler
Graphic of Nonverbal learning disabilities: What you're seeing in your high schooler

About the Author

Portrait of Erica Patino

Erica Patino is an online writer and editor who specializes in health and wellness content.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Sheldon Horowitz

Sheldon H. Horowitz, Ed.D., is senior director of learning resources and research at the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

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