by Jean M. Foss          

This group of disabled learners have only begun to receive the understanding and attention they require.  To understand the difficulties they face and  to help them to make the best of their assets while minimizing the effects of their  weaknesses, we need to recognize the syndrome and its implications.

There is potential for confusion in the term "Nonverbal Learning Disability."  This term refers to the fact that these individuals do not process accurately information which is not verbal/linguistic in nature - conversely, they rely almost exclusively on their interpretation of the spoken or written word.  This interpretation tends to be concrete, often appears to be rigid and lacking in flexibility.  We infer that this lack of flexibility is a result of failure to incorporate information of a nonverbal nature into their understanding.  Such nonverbal information includes tactile, kinesthetic, visual-spatial, affective, experiential information which this learner does not perceive readily and, therefore, does not associate nor integrate
with language.  These individuals may speak volumes; their expressive language tends to be concrete and to contain excessive detail; their conversation shows little or no evidence of consideration of the interests or needs of the audience.

Statements like the following are often true of individuals with a nonverbal learning disability:

We can be most effective if we do the following:


Jean M. Foss is Director of Clinical Teaching and Research at Pine Ridge School, Williston, Vermont.

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