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By Diane Wagner, BA, Grad. Dip. Child Study, LD@school LD Expert

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The term Nonverbal Learning Disabilities (NVLD) is used to describe a cluster of difficulties that primarily affect non-language areas.  The article What are Nonverbal Learning Disabilities describes some common features and the progression of difficulties in students with NVLDs.

Click here to read the article What are Nonverbal Learning Disabilities?.

In the classroom, there are several instructional strategies and interventions that educators may employ, which are reflected in the following tips.

Tips for the Classroom

1. Explain things orally - Students with NVLDs tend to learn and remember things best by using words. They often need a language-based system to sort out how to organize information. Many have very strong verbal skills and can use these to compensate well for their visual-spatial weaknesses.

2. Manage the environment - Students with NVLDs need predictable schedules as much as possible. They need preparation for changes in routines and to be given notice that they are about to be asked to make a transition in activities. They need advance planning and instruction about unfamiliar tasks and situations.

3. Teach explicitly - Students with NVLDs need to be explicitly taught details such as: how to organize and carry out tasks, what is expected in different social, family, and school situations; how others feel, etc.

4. Teach steps, one at a time - Directly teach problem-solving methods and frequently check for levels of understanding. Model use of self-talk as a strategy.

5. Recognize that uncooperative behaviour may be the result of feeling confused, anxious and overwhelmed - Consider assigning a safe place for the student when he or she is feeling overwhelmed.

6. Some students may require referral for social skills training or counselling- This is especially true as they approach adolescence, in collaboration with their family.



Amerongen, M. Tips: The View from Within: Understanding Nonverbal Learning Disabilities. Retrieved from http://www.childdevelop.ca/programs/integra-program/resources.

SNOW. Materials developed for the Learning Disabilities Workshop on the SNOW website. Retrieved from http://www.snow.idrc.ocad.ca.

Related Resources on the LD@school Website

Click here to access the article What are Nonverbal LDs?.

Click here to access the article Explicit Instruction: A Teaching Strategy in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics for Students with LDs.

Click here to access the article Social Skills Training (SST) for Students with LDs.

Click here to access the article Promoting Social and Emotional Competence Through Mindfulness.

Additional Ressources

Click here to access the resource A Handbook on Learning Disabilities (information on NVLD on pages 17-18).

Click here to read the article Confronting the Puzzle of Nonverbal Learning Disabilities by Dorothy M. Vacca on the ASCD website.

Click here to read the article Developing an Educational Plan for the Student with NLD by Sue Thompson on the LD Online website.