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Nonverbal Learning Disorder

Topic Overview

Nonverbal learning disorder is a learning disorder that has many traits commonly associated with autism spectrum disorder. Like those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), children with nonverbal learning disorder usually start to talk around 2 years of age (the age at which speech normally develops). They often have excellent memorization skills needed for reading and spelling. Also, they share a desire to form relationships but often fail because of poor social skills.

But these conditions are not the same. Children with nonverbal learning disorder have some distinguishing characteristics. A hallmark trait of the disorder is difficulty learning from the visual environment. Although they are poor visual learners, children with nonverbal learning disorder often excel at remembering information they hear. Children with ASD are also good at remembering information they hear.

Children with nonverbal learning disorder often have difficulty with math, because math is often explained in a visual context and these children lack nonverbal reasoning skills.

While many people with ASD have nonverbal learning disorder, not all do. Likewise, many people with nonverbal learning disorder do not have ASD. Although these disorders are separate, they both involve similar differences in processing information and those affected may benefit from the same types of treatment.

Credits

Current as of: May 28, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics

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