Social skills are affected by Nonverbal Learning Disabilities. When most people think of “nonverbal” they think of lack of communication. Children with nonverbal disabilities can be totally opposite. They are very verbal. In fact, academic problems may not be detected until upper grades.
Students dealing with nonverbal learning disabilities are verbally expressive. They also possess a strong vocabulary. Memory skills are also well developed. Some signs may include problems understanding reading and math, particularly word problems, lack of abstract reasoning, poor social skills, and problems with nonverbal communication skills.
Children with Nonverbal learning disabilities need routine and structure. A familiar environment will make the child feel comfortable, decreasing the chance of anxiety or low self-esteem. Common sense is often lacking, although the child seems to catch on most of the time academically. Abstract reasoning and concrete thinking may be difficult.
Logically explain any changes to the routine in order to prepare the child. Be sure to explain cause and effect in a clear and concise way. Avoid sarcasm and double meanings. For instance, you may mean “Stop running down the hall, but say, “Run down the hall again”. The child might actually run down the hall because you told him to run down the hall again. Always state any expectations clearly when communicating with the child.
Because nonverbal communication may not be clear to the child diagnosed with Nonverbal Learning Disability, facial expression, tone of voice, gestures, and body language may not be easily read. It would be a great idea to teach the child how to read body language. Pictures could be used to explain the differences in nonverbal communication.
Social interaction is affected by lack of nonverbal communication. Social skills could be developed slowly by helping the child make friends with someone that has similar interests. A date and time could be arranged with another parent for a playmate. This would allow time for the child to adjust to communicating with others without the pressure of many kids. A small social group could also be helpful to build communication skills and deal with stress and anxiety.
Article By Celestine A. Gatley
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