Thursday, October 17, 2013

NLD and the Middle School Transition

NLD children often experience significant difficulty adapting to novel and otherwise complex situations. They evidence an over-reliance on rote behavior and may become oppositional or avoidant when required to organize, analyze and synthesize new information. As the demand for such higher-level thinking and organizational skill increases during middle school years, the problems of NLD children become more debilitating (Rourke, 1995).

NLD children typically display significant deficits in social perception, social judgment and social interaction, which may become more prominent with increasing years (Rourke, 1995). Many pre-teenagers and adolescents with Non-Verbal Learning Disorders display a marked tendency toward social withdrawal and even social isolation with advancing years. While acting out behaviors and conduct problems may be evident in young NLD children, indications of excessive anxiety, depression and associated internalized forms of social and emotional disturbance may become increasingly problematic when NLD children enter adolescence (Rourke, 1995).

Although often hyperactive during early childhood, NLD children generally become more hypoactive as they get older (Rourke, 1995). They are frequently described by others as "socially immature" and may suffer from a disturbed body image (Johnson & Myklebust, 1960). Due to their difficulties with interpreting non-verbal social cues, processing novel stimuli and expressing emotion appropriately through voice and facial expression (Ozols & Rourke, 1985), NLD teens often experience more difficult adolescent transitions than those with normal social competencies.

Characteristics often attributed to NLD adolescents and adults include:

  • Shyness and introversion 
  • An inability to display affect 
  • Chronic emotional difficulties 
  • Poor social perception, and 
  • Impaired visual-spatial skills (Badian, 1992; Weintraub & Mesulam, 1983). 

Academic difficulties, which interfere with school performances and test taking, may include:

  • Poor work habits 
  • Slowness in getting started and finish 
  • Poor motivation 
  • Disorganization (losing things, forgetfulness) 
  • Poor peer relationships 
  • Dependency on parents and teachers for support 
  • Low test grades due to poor comprehension 
  • Difficulty with complex mathematical reasoning and problem solving 
  • Difficulty accepting criticism (Badian, 1992). 

To determine if your child or student has a Non-verbal Learning disorder, call our office for an evaluation with Dr. Margaret J. Kay.

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