Nonverbal learning disorder

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Considered to be neurologically based,[1][2][3] nonverbal learning disorder, otherwise known as nonverbal learning disability (NLD or NVLD), is characterized by verbal strengths as well as visual-spatial, motor and social skills deficits.[4][5] People with this disorder may not perceive nonverbal cues such as facial expression or tone of voice.[6] Challenges with mathematics and handwriting are typical.[7]

Labels for specific associated issues include visual-spatial processing deficit,[8][9][10] Dyscalculia (or Mathematics Disorder),[11][12] Dysgraphia (writing difficulty),[13][14][15] as well as Dyspraxia.[16][17] Assorted diagnoses have been discussed as sharing symptoms with NLD. These conditions include Developmental Right Hemisphere Syndrome,[18][19][20][13] Developmental Coordination Disorder,[21][22] Social-Emotional Processing Disorder,[23][24] Asperger's Syndrome,[25][26][27][28] Gerstmann syndrome[20][29] and others.

While "nonverbal" (perceptual/cognitive and motor) impairments were recognized since early studies in child neurology,[30][31][32][33] there is on-going debate as to whether/or the extent to which existing conceptions of NLD provide a valid diagnostic framework.[34] As originally presented "disorders of nonverbal learning" was a category encompassing primarily non-linguistic learning difficulties (Johnson and Myklebust, 1967)[35] and then "nonverbal learning disabilities" was discussed as a type of learning disability with various sub-types (Myklebust,1975).[36] Later neuropsychologist Byron Rourke[37] sought to define a clinically discrete NLD syndrome employing a specific theory of brain functioning (1989).[38]

In light of emerging neuroscientific research, questions remain about how best to frame the perceptual, cognitive and motor issues associated with NLD.[39][3][40][41]

The DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) and ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases) do not include NLD as a diagnosis.[42][43]


  1. ^ Rourke, Byron P. (1987). "Syndrome of nonverbal learning disabilities: The final common pathway of white-matter disease/dysfunction?". Clinical Neuropsychologist 1 (3): 209–34. doi:10.1080/13854048708520056. 
  2. ^ Semrud-Clikeman, M.; Fine, J. (2011). "Presence of Cysts on Magnetic Resonance Images (MRIs) in Children With Asperger Disorder and Nonverbal Learning Disabilities". Journal of Child Neurology 26 (4): 471–5. doi:10.1177/0883073810384264. PMID 21398562. 
  3. ^ a b Fine, Jodene Goldenring; Musielak, Kayla A.; Semrud-Clikeman, Margaret (2014). "Smaller splenium in children with nonverbal learning disability compared to controls, high-functioning autism and ADHD". Child Neuropsychology 20 (6): 641–61. doi:10.1080/09297049.2013.854763. PMID 24215424. 
  4. ^ Humphries, Tom (Autumn 1993). "Nonverbal Learning Disabilities: A Distinct Group Within Our Population". Communique (Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario). Archived from the original on November 28, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Nonverbal Learning Disorders". Stanford School of Medicine. 
  6. ^ Mamen, Maggie (Summer 2000). "Non Verbal Learning Disabilities: Impact on Social Functioning; And Interpersonal Skills". Communique (Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario) 29 (5). 
  7. ^ Zieman, Gayle (February 2000). "Nonverbal Learning Disability: The Math and Handwriting Problem". Parenting New Mexico. 
  8. ^ Forrest, Bonny J. (2004). "The Utility of Math Difficulties, Internalized Psychopathology, and Visual-Spatial Deficits to Identify Children With the Nonverbal Learning Disability Syndrome: Evidence for a Visualspatial Disability". Child Neuropsychology 10 (2): 129–46. doi:10.1080/09297040490911131. PMID 15590491. 
  9. ^ Harnadek, M. C. S.; Rourke, B. P. (1994). "Principal Identifying Features of the Syndrome of Nonverbal Learning Disabilities in Children". Journal of Learning Disabilities 27 (3): 144–54. doi:10.1177/002221949402700303. PMID 8040632. 
  10. ^ Wilson, Peter H.; McKenzie, Beryl E. (1998). "Information Processing Deficits Associated with Developmental Coordination Disorder: A Meta-analysis of Research Findings". Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 39 (6): 829–40. doi:10.1111/1469-7610.00384. PMID 9758192. 
  11. ^ Rourke, B. P.; Conway, J. A. (1997). "Disabilities of Arithmetic and Mathematical Reasoning: Perspectives From Neurology and Neuropsychology". Journal of Learning Disabilities 30 (1): 34–46. doi:10.1177/002221949703000103. PMID 9009877. 
  12. ^ Geary, David C. (2010). "Mathematical disabilities: Reflections on cognitive, neuropsychological, and genetic components". Learning and Individual Differences 20 (2): 130. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2009.10.008. PMC 2821095. PMID 20161681. 
  13. ^ a b Tsur, V. G.; Shalev, R. S.; Manor, O.; Amir, N. (1995). "Developmental Right-Hemisphere Syndrome: Clinical Spectrum of the Nonverbal Learning Disability". Journal of Learning Disabilities 28 (2): 80–6. doi:10.1177/002221949502800202. PMID 7884301. 
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  16. ^ Clayton, MC; Dodd, JL (2005). "Nonverbal neurodevelopmental dysfunctions". Pediatric Annals 34 (4): 321–7. PMID 15871436. 
  17. ^ Solodow, William; Sandy, Sandra V.; Leventhal, Fern; Beszylko, Scott; Shepherd, Margaret Jo; Cohen, Jonathan; Goldman, Shoshana; Perry, Richard; Chang, Jennifer J.; Nass, Ruth (Fall 2006). "Frequency and Diagnostic Criteria for Nonverbal Learning Disabilities in a General Learning Disability School Cohort". Thalamus 24 (1): 17–33. 
  18. ^ Wilmshurst, Linda (2014). "Sandy Smith: Marching to the TUne of a Different Drummer". Child and Adolescent Psychopathology: A Casebook. Sage. pp. 89–99. ISBN 978-1-4833-2268-1. 
  19. ^ Riccio, Cynthia A. (2007). "Dyscalculia". In Reynolds, Cecil R.; Fletcher-Janzen, Elaine. Encyclopedia of Special Education. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 769–70. ISBN 978-0-471-67798-7. 
  20. ^ a b Semrud-Clikeman, Margaret; Hynd, George W. (1990). "Right hemisphere dysfunction in nonverbal learning disabilities: Social, academic, and adaptive functioning in adults and children". Psychological Bulletin 107 (2): 196–209. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.107.2.196. PMID 2181523. 
  21. ^ "Recognizing and Referring Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder: The Role of the Psychologist". CanChild. 
  22. ^ Jongmans, M. J.; Smits-Engelsman, B. C. M.; Schoemaker, M. M. (2003). "Consequences of Comorbidity of Developmental Coordination Disorders and Learning Disabilities for Severity and Pattern of Perceptual Motor Dysfunction". Journal of Learning Disabilities 36 (6): 528–37. doi:10.1177/00222194030360060401. PMID 15493435. 
  23. ^ Tsatsanis, Katherine (2013). "Right-Hemisphere Syndrome". In Volkmar, Fred R. Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Springer. pp. 2596–600. doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-1698-3_1587. ISBN 978-1-4419-1698-3. 
  24. ^ Manoach, Dara Sue; Sandson, Thomas A.; Weintraub, Sandra (April 1995). "The Developmental Social-Emotional Processing Disorder Is Associated with Right Hemisphere Abnormalities". Neuropsychiatry, Neuropsychology, & Behavioral Neurology 8 (2): 99–105. INIST:3510330. 
  25. ^ Ellis, Hadyn D.; Gunter, Helen L. (1999). "Asperger syndrome: a simple matter of white matter?". Trends in Cognitive Sciences 3 (5): 192–200. doi:10.1016/S1364-6613(99)01315-7. PMID 10322476. 
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  29. ^ Forrest, Bonny J. (2011). "Developmental Gerstmann Syndrome". In Kreutzer, Jeffrey S.; DeLuca, John; Caplan, Bruce. Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology. Springer. pp. 826–7. doi:10.1007/978-0-387-79948-3_1540. ISBN 978-0-387-79948-3. 
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  31. ^ Gardner-Medwin, David (1990). "John Walton". In Ashwal, Stephen. The Founders of Child Neurology. Norman. pp. 862–70. ISBN 978-0-930405-26-7. 
  32. ^ Walton, J. N.; Ellis, E.; Court, S. D. M. (1962). "Clumsy children: developmental apraxia and agnosia". Brain 85 (3): 603–12. doi:10.1093/brain/85.3.603. PMID 13998739. 
  33. ^ Gerstmann, Josef (1940). "Syndrome of finger agnosia, disorientation for right and left, agraphia and acalculia: local diagnostic value". Archives of Neurology & Psychiatry 44 (2): 398–408. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1940.02280080158009. 
  34. ^ "Differentiating NLD". Current Psychiatry 10 (7). July 2011. 
  35. ^ Johnson, Doris J.; Myklebust, Helmer R. (1967). "Nonverbal Disorders of Learning". Learning disabilities: educational principles and practices. New York: Grune & Stratton. pp. 272–. ISBN 978-0-8089-0219-5. 
  36. ^ Myklebust, Helmer R. (1975). Myklebust, Helmer R., ed. "Nonverbal learning disabilities: Assessment and intervention". Progress in Learning Disabilities (Grune and Stratton) 3: 85–. ISSN 0079-6387. 
  37. ^ Donders, Jacobus (2011). "Obituary for Dr. Byron Rourke". Child Neuropsychology 17 (5): 417. doi:10.1080/09297049.2011.617105. 
  38. ^ Rourke, Byron P. (1989). Nonverbal Learning Disabilities: The Syndrome and the Model. Guilford Press. ISBN 978-0-89862-378-9. [page needed]
  39. ^ Spreen, Otfried (2011). "Nonverbal learning disabilities: A critical review". Child Neuropsychology 17 (5): 418–43. doi:10.1080/09297049.2010.546778. PMID 21462003. 
  40. ^ Davis, John M.; Broitman, Jessica (2011). Nonverbal Learning Disabilities in Children: Bridging the Gap Between Science and Practice. Springer. ISBN 978-1-4419-8213-1. 
  41. ^ Mammarella, Irene C.; Cornoldi, Cesare (2014). "An analysis of the criteria used to diagnose children with Nonverbal Learning Disability (NLD)". Child Neuropsycholog 20 (3): 255–80. doi:10.1080/09297049.2013.796920. PMID 23705673. 
  42. ^ Tannock, Rosemary (January 2014). "DSM-5 Changes in Diagnostic Criteria for Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD): What are the Implications?". International Dyslexia Association. 
  43. ^ "2015/16 ICD-10-CM Diagnosis Code F81.9: Developmental disorder of scholastic skills, unspecified". 

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