Non-verbal language disorders are perplexing to diagnose.

A child with this disorder maybe diagnosed with other childhood disorders including Autism. However, an astute therapist will look for the correct markers to differentiate the diagnosis. The properties to look for include: eye contact; body language; ability to read body language, inference, and inflection patterns in others. Friendships can be affected as well.

“Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NLD), also called Nonverbal Learning Disability  is a developmental disability which all too often goes undiagnosed. Individuals with this potentially debilitating disorder generally suffer in silence.”

 – via “NLD on the web”  


In an article by Erica Patino “understanding Nonverbal Learning Disabilities”, she states that NVLD is a “brain-based” condition that affects skills like abstract thinking and spatial relationships as well as social skills. As related to this form of language/learning disability, the individual displays characteristics such: talking a lot, not always sharing in a socially appropriate way, missing social cues, misunderstanding adults (parents and teachers), difficulty with understanding body language and inflection patterns and facial expressions, abstract thinking, pays attention to detail but misses the big picture, physically awkward, poor handwriting, literal/concrete thinker. It may coexist with Asperger’s. The individual amy have difficulty adjusting to change.

As we help parents diagnose the disorder we must first:

  • See your primary care doctor to discuss the specialists you may want to see.
  • A neurologist or pediatric developmentalist may be your next step
  • See a speech/language pathologist for a full language evaluation
  • Also consider physical and occupational therapy
  • ADHD may be in the diagnostic continuum as well as possible Asperger’s Syndrome
  • Utilize social skills groups
  • Look for possibility of anxiety issues
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