The NVLD Project is supporting a research study on children with NVLD at Columbia University Medical Center. Our goal is to better understand what makes NVLD a distinct diagnosis. We are trying to learn more about how children with NVLD learn and if there are differences in the way that their brains work. In order to do this, we are having children come spend a day at Columbia University Medical Center. The day consists of spending time doing tasks and an MRI scan.
Dating can be daunting for anyone, but dating with a Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) creates a unique set of challenges. People with NVLD have difficulties reading body language, understanding nuance such as sarcasm in communication, and simply managing to transition to new environments. Nevertheless, while the challenges of dating on the Autism Spectrum have received increasing attention, little has been published about NVLD. However, as I suggested in my blog post Overlooked: What Makes Many Young Adults with NVLD Attractive, many young people with NVLD have unique strengths. I outline below how they can use these strengths not only to compensate for deficits, but also as assets. Of course, every person with NVLD is unique and these suggestions are not meant to be a one-size fits all approach, but they may help young adults with NVLD increase confidence while dating.
The challenges in finding and keeping employment for young adults on the autism spectrum are well documented, with studies indicating that 75 to 85 percent are unemployed . However, there are no employment statistics for adults with NVLD, although according to Yvonna Fast, author of the book Employment for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome or Non-verbal Learning Disability, a high percentage are also thought to be unemployed or underemployed. Despite the increasing availability of job coaching and independent living services for young adults on the autism spectrum, the NVLD population lacks access to similar services, despite the many challenges they face. Deficits in visual spatial processing and executive functioning can cause seemingly mundane work tasks, such as organizing files, prioritizing, and filling out forms, to be excessively onerous, while managing nonverbal communication from employers and colleagues can also be challenging. More must be done, starting at the college and graduate school levels, to prepare adults with NVLD for the demands of the workforce.
One hallmark behavior associated with NVLD is social difficulty. Often children with NVLD feel isolated and lonely. Social problems associated with NVLD may derive from difficulty with spatial and visual-perceptual deficits. However, the social problems associated with NVLD may derive from other sources, too. Many children with NVLD experience anxiety. Sometimes this anxiety is purely social, but many times it extends into other realms. It is not uncommon for children with NVLD to have obsessive tendencies or to have phobias and other forms of anxiety, in addition to social anxiety. Anxiety can lead to children restricting their interactions with others to avoid anxiety-inducing triggers. Read More
Children with NVLD have spatial or visual-perceptual deficits. For some this leads to difficulty in math, for others to social problems. The mechanisms underlying these social problems are not well understood. One hypothesis is that spatial and visual-perceptual deficits make it hard for children to interpret social cues. For example, they may misinterpret facial expressions and incorrectly determine that someone is frowning at them when instead the person is looking quizzically at them. Alternatively, spatial and visual-perceptual deficits may interfere with children’s ability to interpret body language. They may see two children standing together and misinterpret the amount of space between them, and then misattribute the meaning of that space. They may think, “Those girls are huddling together and don’t want me to join in,” whereas another child might think, “There are two girls I know standing together; I will join them.” Additionally, spatial and visual-perceptual deficits may make it hard to integrate cues about the spatial environment with a current social scenario. Read More
I’ve always found it ironic that a child with a Non-Verbal Learning Disability can have such difficulty with reading comprehension. Some other time I’ll talk about why the “non-verbal” part of the LD label doesn’t quite capture the difficulties these kids have. Today, though, I want to offer some advice that can be used in school or at home for working on those reading comprehension issues. Read More