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What is Nonverbal Learning Disability (NVLD)?

NVLD can affect one’s social interactions, spatial awareness, and fine motor and gross motor skills. An individual with NVLD may have difficulty with concepts such as abstract thinking, problem solving, and the comprehension of written material, as well as deficits in understanding how to read a map or graph, or comprehending visual-based math concepts, such as fractions and geometry. Further, struggling to recognize social cues, body language and vocal inflections can lead to challenges in higher-level learning and overall social interaction.

The Challenges Faced by Learners with NVLD in High School and College

As a person transitions into higher education, a greater demand is placed on them to initiate tasks, self-monitor, and perform at a, generally speaking, higher level of independence. Those with NVLD may face some challenges that make secondary and post-secondary learning more challenging: Examples include:

  • Using fine motor skills to perform tasks such as note-taking or writing for long periods of time
  • Making frequent and fast-paced transitions throughout one’s daily schedule
  • Generalizing and applying previously learned information to novel situations
  • Translating abstract information rather than thinking in a literal fashion
  • Asking too many questions or interrupting the teacher or professor during lectures

The need for students to self-advocate for accommodations and learning support in such scenarios increases as the demands of the academic setting become more challenging.

Strategies for Learners with NVLD

For students with NVLD, several strategies can be implemented to support learning in the high school or college setting:

  • Establish routes to and from classrooms ahead of time and encourage practice getting from place to place
  • Minimize the number of transitions required
  • Schedule meetings with instructors after class to ask clarifying questions
  • Sit in a distraction-reduced part of the classroom
  • Record lectures and practice translating recordings into working notes
  • Advocate for a copy of the teacher or professor’s notes or lecture outline before class to preview the material
  • Advocate for and utilize testing accommodations that make sense for one’s learning style, such as alternate testing location, alternate testing format, directions read and reread, etc.

Supporting Learners with NVLD in your Classroom

Instructors working with students with NVLD can implement supports to optimize learning in the classroom. For example, providing the student with written directions, as well as conferencing individually with the student to explain assignments, directions, etc. can be very helpful. Providing students with a supplementary copy of lecture notes or allowing and encouraging the student to record classroom lectures can alleviate the issue of students missing critical content during class. An instructor may also want to consider adapting tests to reduce the need for writing. Instead of essay exams, perhaps offer an alternate way for the student to be able to demonstrate knowledge of the content, such as an oral exam.

Students with NVLD Can Succeed in High School and College

For those who need additional support, New Frontiers in Learning provides academic, executive functioning, and social support services to adolescents and young adults who learn differently. We specialize in working with students who need a customized level of instruction at the secondary and post-secondary levels. Contact us for more information about our in person and virtual services.

Want to Learn More?

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