As you review the characteristics outlined within this article, please keep in mind that many of the characteristics listed under one heading may, and often do, impact the individual in many areas of their lives. The hallmark of those diagnosed with NLD appears to be their fear, and sometimes terror, of any novel situation.


  1. Generally the individual’s WISC VIQ is higher than their PIQ, but not in all cases.
  2. There is an excellent vocabulary and more than typical verbal expression, starting at a young age.
  3. Exceptional rote memory skills are quite common, and may mask the disability in early education.
  4. There is excellent attention to detail, but the individual will likely miss the big picture.
  5. The individual may be an early reader, OR may have early reading difficulties. However, in either case, there is generally difficulty with reading comprehension beginning in the upper elementary grades, especially for novel material.
  6. Difficulties in math are common, especially in the areas of word problems and abstract applications.
  7. Concept formation and abstract reasoning may be significantly impaired.
  8. There is likely to be great difficulty generalizing information - applying learned information to new situations.
  9. Generally their strongest learning medium is auditory - if they hear it, they will remember it.


  1. Physical awkwardness is quite common - they appear to lack coordination. As a youngster, the individual does better in individual rather than team sports.
  2. Fine motor skills may be impaired - handwriting may be poor and/or laborious. However, handwriting often improves with age.
  3. Significant problems with spatial perception are quite common.
  4. Physical difficulties are generally more pronounced on the left side of body.
  5. There is difficulty learning to ride a bicycle, catch and/or kick a ball, hop and/or skip.


  1. These individuals are very concrete and interpret information quite literally.
  2. Normally, they do not process or benefit from nonverbal communication - body language, facial expressions, tone of voice may be lost on them.
  3. They are unable to intuit or read between the lines.
  4. Generally, these individuals have poor social skills. They will most likely have trouble making and/or keeping friends


  1. Anxiety and/or depression are very common, especially during adolescence. This problem may be quite severe.
  2. Often these individuals suffer from low self-esteem.
  3. It is quite common for them to be withdrawn, and they may actually become agoraphobic.
  4. In all likelihood, they will have tremendous difficulty adjusting to new situations, or changes to their routine.
  5. These individuals generally appear to lack common sense, or "street smarts" - they can be incredibly naïve.
  6. There is a higher than normal incidence of suicide within the NLD population.


Helping the Child Who Doesn’t Fit In,
Stephen Nowicki and Marshall Duke, 1992, Peachtree Publishers, GA

It’s Nobody’s Fault,
Harold S. Koplewicz, 1996, Times Books division of Random House, NY

Nonverbal Learning Disabilities: The Syndrome and the Model,
Byron P. Rourke, 1989, The Guilford Press, NY

No One to Play With: The Social Side of Learning Disabilities,
Betty B. Osman, 1982, Random House, NY

Star Shaped Pegs, Square Holes,
Kathy Allen, Unicycle Press, 1076 Lynn St., Livermore, CA 94550.

Syndrome of Nonverbal Learning Disabilities: Neurodevelopmental manifestations,
B.P. Rourke (Ed.), 1995, The Guilford Press, NY

Teaching Your Child the Language of Social Success,
Marshall P. Duke, Stephen Nowicki, Jr., and Elisabeth A. Martin, 1996, Peachtree Publishers, GA

The Source for Nonverbal Learning Disorders (formerly called "I Shouldn’t Have to Tell you! A Guide to Understanding Nonverbal Learning Disorders"),
Sue Thompson, M.A., C.E.T., 1997, LinguiSystems Inc

When You Worry About the Child You Love: Emotional and Learning Problems in Children,
Edward Hallowell, 1996, Simon & Schuster, NY

Autism, Asperger's syndrome and semantic-pragmatic disorder: Where are the boundaries?
D.V.M. Bishop, 1989, British Journal of Disorders of Communications, Vol. 24, pgs. 107-121.

Developmental right-hemisphere syndrome: Clinical spectrum of the nonverbal learning disability,
V. Gross-Tsur, R.S. Shalev, O. Manor & N. Amir, 1995, Journal of Learning Disabilities, Vol. 28, No. 2, Pgs. 80-86.

Nonverbal learning disabilities and remedial interventions,
J.M.Foss, 1991, Annals of Dyslexia, Vol. 41, pgs. 128-140.

Nonverbal learning disabilities, Asperger’s syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder -- should we care?
R.A.Brumback, C.R.Harper, W.A.Weinberg, 1996, Journal of Child Neurology, Vol. 11, No. 6, pgs. 427-429.

Nonverbal Learning Disorders,
S.Thompson, 1997, Fall/Winter edition of The Gram, LDA-CA

Treatment Programme for the Child with NLD,
B.P. Rourke, 1993, Byron P. Rourke, Ph.D., Dept. of Psychology, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada N9B 3P4

Validity and neuropsychological characterization of Asperger syndrome: convergence with nonverbal learning disabilities syndrome,
A.Klin, F.R.Volkmar, S.S.Sparrow, D.V.Cicchetti, B.P. Rourke, 1995,

Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol. 36 (7), pgs. 1127-1140.
Assessing and Diagnosing the Individual with Nonverbal Learning Disorders (audiotape) lecturer: Diane Kosters, PhD, from the Nonverbal Learning Disorders Symposium, California, 1996.

Educational Interventions for the Child with Nonverbal Learning Disorders (audiotape) lecturers:
Sue Thompson, MA, CET and Judith Paton, MA, from the Nonverbal Learning Disorders Symposium, California, 1996.

Making Sense of Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities (transcript), lecturer: Ray Petrauskas, Annual Conference of the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario, 1995

Psychological Interventions for the Child with Nonverbal Learning Disorders (audiotape) lecturer: Kathryn Stewart, PhD, from the Nonverbal Learning Disorders Symposium, California, 1996.

Social Skills Training for Nonverbal Communication (audiotape),
lecturers: Maria Antoniadis, PhD and Kathryn McCarthy, PhD, from the Nonverbal Learning Disorders Symposium, California, 1996.

The Nonverbal Disabilities: Dense, Dyslogic, Self-Defeating (transcript),
lecturers: Dr. Eleanor Westhead, Dr. Jane Blalock, Dr. Kay Noel Gregg, International Conference of the Learning Disabilities Association of America, 1990.

Advocating for the Individual with Nonverbal Learning Disorders (audiotape), lecturers:
Sarah Clarke, Esq. and Maria Antoniadis, PhD, from the Nonverbal Learning Disorders Symposium, California, 1996 The

Hand, Handwriting, and the Child with Nonverbal Learning Disorders (audiotape),
lecturer: Peg Bledsoe, MA, OTR, FAOTA, Pediatric Occupational Therapist, from the Nonverbal Learning Disorders Symposium California, 1996.