NVLD or NLD – Non-verbal Learning Disability has come more and more onto my professional radar recently, seems like another interesting array of symptoms that has been grouped into a label. Maybe you recently had a psychological assessment and have come away with this syndrome – another psychologist might have given your child another label, e.g. Asperger’s Disorder, ASD/Autism Spectrum Disorder, Hyperlexia, PDD NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder, not otherwise specified) or a mixed bag (dyslexia, but not typical; dyspraxia; ADHD; Social impairment; mild Asperger’s). 

Non-verbal doesn’t mean the child has trouble with speaking – often quite the opposite. It is the weakness with non-verbal communication (difficulty understanding: visual cues, rules of conversation, social skills, concepts, body language). Considering that more than 70 % of our conversation is non-verbal, the implications are obvious. Additionally there often are issues with Comprehension (although reading is often highly developed), Coordination and Balance (clumsiness, poor handwriting), Right-brain Processing (easily overwhelmed with visual stimuli), Maths (understanding reasoning and concepts), Social interaction and of course as a result anxiety and self-esteem.

There is so much information out there on google, including the rather boring, but informative YouTube video I included, that portrays a wide range of symptoms and a hierarchy of interventions. There is, however, one aspect that is missing, an aspect that Ron Davis and the Davis Autism Approach never fails to address in the first place: Is the child oriented or disoriented – and would the creation of a stable orientation help a person with any kind of label ‘individuate’? Although I have never worked with somebody with the NVLD label, I have worked with many children who would fit the bill, if they went to a specialist. All of these clients have benefitted greatly from a stable orientation – being able to perceive themselves in the correct relationship to their body, space, environment and all that in a calm and focused way. 

Major concepts like ‘change’, ‘consequence’, ‘time’, ‘sequence’ and ‘order’ among others have been addressed in detail before tackling the social interactions. These individuals need to first have an  ability to fully participate in life, an understanding of their personal role in it and then the role of the ‘other’ or ‘others’. The label is secondary, as far as I am concerned. What are the goals, interests and dreams of that child or adult?