Non Verbal Learning Disability

I’m not sure where I got my data but for some reason, somewhere I read the 80% of kids with Spina Bifida will have a Nonverbal learning disorder.  As I’m looking today, I find that:  

  1. A study by Culattta in 1980 states that between 70 and 80 percent of children with spina bifida have marked educational handicaps which require special education programs.
  2. About 40 percent of shunts will fail and need changing (or revision) within one year, 60 percent within five years and 80-85 percent within 10 years. About 20 percent of people with Spina Bifida will need more than one shunt revision.
  3. About 80 percent of people with Spina Bifida have hydrocephalus that needs treatment
  4. Frequently, the challenges associated with a nonverbal learning disorder are less apparent in early childhood (i.e., age 7 and 8) and become more obvious as these youth move into early adolescence (i.e., age 10 14 years), when academic work requires sustained attention and analytical skills.

These were the odds of my focus, my primary focus. As a teacher, I knew learning disabilities could change a final outcome. What are your motivators? What leads your decisions? At age 30, in looking back, were they the correct focus? Only time will tell for Mel

Nonverbal learning disorders are caused by: moderate to severe head injury, repeated radiation treatments, tumor, seizures, congenital absence of the corpus callosum, and hydrocephalus. Mel has a shunt for hydrocephalus. She has been lucky to not need any revisions – yet. She does not have seizures but does have a Chari malformations.

So what is a nonverbal learning disability? It’s a type of learning disorder that causes difficulties with problem solving that does not involve written or spoken language. It also points to struggles staying organized in terms of time and space.  Kids with a nonverbal learning disability have good basic verbal skills.  They can have other struggles but those were the ones that relate to Mel.  Click a link to learn more. 

NVLD can cause problems with decision-making.

Mel does not like to make decisions. To this day, if you ask her if she wants “A or B”, she usually says, “I do not know”. When you pressure her, she then gets frustrated.  It’s like she does not care.  But she does. I had to give her time to think. 

NVLD can cause problems with time management.

Mel struggles with time concepts. She can take forever to do something and does not seem to know how much time as elapsed. My best idea: A clock in her bathroom. It took me until high school to realize this was not that she was doing a lot of things; she needed concrete cues to keep her on task.  She also gets up 60-90 min before we have to leave the house in the morning.  This difficulty understanding elapse of time caused problem with homework.  A kid can only study so long.  It’s like a cup.  When it is full, the information is only spilling out.  Once it started spilling out, Mel only got more frustrated and more time would go by with nothing accomplished.  A 504 modification in which she was only required to do so much homework was the last 504 modification to go.  She was in high school before she was able to do all her homework.  The best place for her homework was after school tutoring or early morning tutoring.  She just learned better from others. 

 I have found information that says: kids with nonverbal learning disabilities “can become confused and feel overwhelmed when the number and variety of nonverbal stimuli exceeds their processing abilities, especially when those stimuli must be processed in “real time.”

Mel has a history of shutting down when too much information is given at one time or too fast. You have to give Mel time and when she is tired; forget learning.

 Arithmetic and mathematics can be very difficult for people with nonverbal learning disabilities. 

Math has only been a struggle for Mel. She always scored one or two points above passing on those standardized test.  But you know what.  Passing is Passing.  In high school, Math finally became a little easier.  She now gets mostly Bs in math.  She will definitely not get a career in a field that involves Math.  Anyone not struggle with Math?

 Kids with NVLD often have problems with spatial awareness. Problematic areas may include: Recognizing faces, Paying attention in noisy environments, Navigation, Remembering the names and locations of place, Map reading, or plotting or remembering routes.

Mel also has no navigation skills. She used to get lost so easily. I recall a cruise. She was in 4th or 5th grade. She was never able to master the art of finding the room back. We are in the process of drivers education.  I’ll let you know how that goes.  Maybe a tracking app on her phone will be needed for my sanity.  Is navigation a problem for others?

 Have we had her tested and officially diagnosed as having a NVLD; No. I tend to only test when it will help me understand or get Mel access to help. She was initially tested before kindergarten and I think the ARD recommended 504 as she I was not going to get therapy in school. Mel needed to learn in school. To be with the other kids. I could get Mel therapy outside of school.  Kids with 504 services do not get the complete overall special education testing done every 3 years like a child is classified as special education. 

 Mel is in high school now and is still classified under a 504 program. The 504 classification gets her extra time to use the restroom, the ability to leave class early but only if it is really needed. The halls of life are crowded. I figure she needs to learn to move with the crowd someday. It also means I can call and get help just a little faster when problems do occur. Test modifications, shortened assignments and such are not given in college. Are they? I am trying to get Mel ready for college and thus I tried to drop the extra help last year. Am I doing all I can? Only time will tell. What modification did your child get in College?

The following are places where I gathered data for this post. I was once told to always ask, “How do you know that” How often have you been mislead due to old, outdated or wrong information? How many times have you asked your therapist where they got the data they are spouting at you? Do you ask “What is the goal of this or that therapy or processes.” 

I do not recall asking these question early on. I think I should have.


2 thoughts on “Non Verbal Learning Disability

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