How to Support Students with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities at School
Nonverbal learning disabilities (NLD) are a group of neurological conditions that affect the ability to process and interpret nonverbal information, such as facial expressions, body language, spatial awareness, and abstract reasoning. Students with NLD often have difficulties with social skills, organization, problem-solving, and adapting to new situations. They may also have co-occurring conditions such as Asperger syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or anxiety disorders.
Students with NLD can face many challenges in school, where they are expected to learn from visual cues, follow directions, work in groups, and cope with changes in routines. However, with appropriate accommodations and interventions, they can also succeed academically and socially. Here are some strategies that teachers and parents can use to help students with NLD at school:
Provide clear and explicit instructions. Students with NLD may have trouble understanding implied or inferred information, so they need direct and concrete instructions that are broken down into manageable steps. Avoid using idioms, metaphors, or sarcasm that may confuse them. Check for comprehension and repeat or rephrase instructions if needed.
Use multisensory teaching methods. Students with NLD may benefit from a variety of modalities to learn new concepts and skills, such as auditory, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic. For example, use pictures, diagrams, charts, graphs, maps, models, manipulatives, videos, songs, rhymes, stories, games, and hands-on activities to reinforce learning.
Teach organizational and study skills. Students with NLD may have difficulty planning, prioritizing, sequencing, and completing tasks. They may also struggle with memory and attention. Teach them how to use calendars, planners, checklists, timers, folders, binders, labels, color-coding systems, mnemonics devices, flashcards, outlines, graphic organizers, and other tools to help them stay organized and focused.
Provide structure and consistency. Students with NLD may have trouble adapting to changes in routines or expectations. They may also get overwhelmed by too much stimuli or information. Provide them with a predictable and structured environment that minimizes distractions and transitions. Establish clear rules and expectations and review them regularly. Give them advance notice of any changes or upcoming events and explain the reasons behind them.
Support social and emotional development. Students with NLD may have difficulty interpreting social cues, making friends, expressing emotions appropriately,
and coping with stress or frustration. They may also experience low self-esteem or anxiety due to their challenges. Provide them with opportunities to practice social skills in a safe and supportive setting. Teach them how to recognize and label emotions,
use positive self-talk,
and employ coping strategies such as deep breathing,
or seeking help from a trusted adult.
Students with NLD have unique strengths and challenges that require individualized support and intervention at school. By understanding their needs and providing them with appropriate accommodations and strategies,
teachers and parents can help them achieve their full potential in the classroom and beyond.
If you want to learn more about NLD and how to educate students with this condition,
you may want to read the book Nonverbal Learning Disabilities at School: Educating Students with NLD,
and Related Conditions by Pamela B. Tanguay[^1^] [^2^] [^3^]. This book offers practical suggestions
and ideas for methods that can be utilized to meet the challenges of teaching students with NLD. ec8f644aee