Non-linguistic Learning Disorder

Non -speech learning disorder is a neuropsychological syndrome. The affected children suffer from various deficits.

Non-linguistic Learning Disorder

What is a Non-Language Learning Disability?

The non-verbal learning disorder is also known as non- verbal learning disorder or non- verbal learning disorder (NLD). The children suffering from the syndrome are unable to interpret body language. In Germany, the non-speech learning disorder is one of the less well-known disorders. See definitionexplorer for BS Definitions.

The affected children learn to read at an early age and are endowed with a high level of language talent. However, there are difficulties with non-verbal interactions. There is also a lack of coordination and fine motor skills. Because there are also problems with the sense of balance, falls and thus injuries and injuries are common.

Furthermore, the visual-spatial perception of children suffers from the neuropsychological syndrome. Those affected find it difficult to recognize details and classify them accordingly. After all, they are also unable to perceive other people’s body language.


What causes the non-verbal learning disorder has not yet been clarified. Various physicians suspect that neurological damage is responsible for the development of the non-verbal learning disorder. Destruction is said to occur in the white matter region on the right side of the cerebrum. Problems with learning, playing, sports and social behavior are already evident in kindergarten and finally in school life.

The later profession is also negatively affected by the non-verbal learning disorder. For example, some patients have problems living independently and it is difficult for them to get a driver’s license or drive a car. Motor problems in turn increase the risk of accidents.

It is not uncommon for the social abnormalities of the people concerned to withdraw from other people and lead to isolation and discrimination. A non-verbal learning disorder is common in autistic people suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome. However, autism does not exist in all people with nonverbal learning disorders.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The non-speech learning disorder is associated with various symptoms and disorders. The affected children are unable to understand body language or use it themselves. In addition, they have difficulty following verbal instructions and lack spatial awareness. There is also sensory hypersensitivity, which is noticeable in hearing, smelling, seeing and tasting.

The lack of non-verbal communication such as body language leads to problems with adaptability or socialization disorders. Motor disorders are also considered to be a typical symptom of the non-speech learning disorder. Those affected suffer from balance problems, a lack of coordination and handwriting problems.

In addition, they have poor visual memory, difficulty with spatial relationships, and inadequate spatial awareness. Furthermore, those affected find it difficult to adjust to changes. However, the non-speech learning disorder is also associated with some special abilities.

The affected children learn to speak at an early age and have a well-developed vocabulary and great eloquence. They learn to read at an early age, have a great talent for learning by heart and are good at remembering what they hear. Your attention to detail is high. However, these skills are often lost in the many deficits that are considered important in life.

The non-verbal learning disorder becomes noticeable in early childhood. For example, problems appear when playing with other children, as well as in further development. Although the children show special talents and preferences at school, it is difficult for them to learn new things.

Because of their lack of understanding of body language and emotions, they rarely engage in physical activity and have difficulty making friends. Nevertheless, a higher school-leaving certificate is definitely possible. But they also repeatedly suffer from problems in training and professional life when new knowledge has to be gained.

Diagnosis & course of disease

In order to diagnose a non-speech learning disorder, special learning and performance tests are carried out. The HAWIK test is one of the proven examination methods. Within this framework, verbal and non-verbal intelligence can be distinguished. The non-speech learning disorder often results in a problematic course for those affected.

Most of them cannot live alone in an apartment and are dependent on people they can relate to. Because of the specific movements required when driving, many of those affected do not manage to obtain a driver’s license because they cannot internalize the typical processes. Since the social behavior of other people cannot be interpreted, dealing with them is often avoided.


A non-speech learning disorder can have different consequences for the affected children. The neuropsychological syndrome is already noticeable in kindergarten and elementary school. Children who suffer from a non-verbal learning disorder find it difficult to acquire knowledge.

However, sporting activities, playing and social behavior are also affected by the disorder. Later, there are restrictions on training and exercising professional life. It is not uncommon for those affected to have problems leading an independent life. In addition, quite a few of those affected have difficulties driving a car or obtaining a driver’s license.

The problems of a non-language learning disorder are very different. For example, those affected have problems solving mathematical tasks, but learning foreign languages ​​does not cause them any difficulties. Problems in sport are attributed to the limitations in motor skills. Another consequence is the large amount of time it takes children to complete tasks.

One of the most serious complications of the non-speech learning disorder is the social isolation of those affected, since they often suffer discrimination because of their conspicuous social behavior, which in turn leads to social withdrawal. It is not uncommon for depression or anxiety disorders to develop as a result. Due to the motor deficits, there is also a risk of falls or accidents. But also teachers, educators or trainers often feel overwhelmed by people who suffer from a non-verbal learning disorder.

When should you go to the doctor?

Parents who notice deficits in their child’s language development, especially in the area of ​​body language, should seek medical advice. If this is accompanied by increased attention to detail and early reading development, there may be a non-linguistic learning disorder that needs to be diagnosed by a doctor. The condition must be evaluated and specified by a specialist before treatment can be initiated. Therefore, the first signs of a disorder should be clarified, especially if they limit the child’s social skills.

It is best for parents of affected children to talk to their family doctor. If necessary, they can consult a neurologist or speech therapist and, depending on the severity of the symptoms, consult other specialists. The actual treatment is also carried out by various doctors and psychologists. The first priority is behavioral therapy, which must be started at an early stage. The child may also need therapeutic support. If behavioral problems occur during treatment, for example outbursts of anger or depressive moods, the doctor must be informed. Drug treatment may be necessary in addition to behavioral therapy. Due to the variety of manifestations that a non-language learning disorder can take, each case must be considered on its own.

Treatment & Therapy

It is not possible to treat the causes of the non-speech learning disorder. Therefore, only the symptoms are treated. Body therapy or occupational therapy are used to improve perception and motor skills. Training in social skills is suitable for stimulating the social behavior of those affected.

Talk therapy as part of psychotherapy is considered to be a useful psychological support in order to promote the patient’s self-esteem. It is important that the treatment measures take place in preschool age.

However, thanks to the Internet, people who suffer from a non-verbal learning disorder are no longer completely isolated in this day and age. They can communicate with other people via social networks, chats or forums. In written conversations, the main symptom of the learning disorder, the problematic handling of body language, disappears.

Outlook & Forecast

The prognosis of a non-speech learning disorder is unfavorable. Since there is still no comprehensive clarification of the cause, doctors and medical professionals concentrate on treating the symptoms that occur. These can vary greatly from person to person. Despite all efforts, however, even with a mild illness, recovery is not possible with the current medical status. Depending on the extent of the symptoms, some symptoms can be treated successfully. Nevertheless, long-term therapy is usually necessary, since the symptoms can return once the treatment measures are ended.

The best possible results are achieved when the learning disability is diagnosed and treated as early as possible. Special therapies are already necessary in the first years of life. In this way, various optimizations and improvements can be documented within the child’s development process. If treatment is started in adulthood, there are usually no significant changes or relief. A comparable prospect applies if no treatment takes place and the relatives and those affected concentrate on self-help measures or alternative healing methods.

Due to its symptoms, the disease is a heavy burden for the person affected and for the members of his/her social environment. Due to the emotional stress, a large number of patients suffer from psychological complications and thus a further deterioration of the overall situation.


Preventive measures against the non-speech learning disorder are not available. The triggering causes of the neuropsychological syndrome are still in the dark.


The persistence of the positive effect of any therapy efforts depends essentially on the point in time at which the diagnosis is made. It is important to classify the spectrum of symptoms early and correctly. Affected people who have already benefited from coordinated therapeutic cooperation as children and continue to take advantage of this in adulthood often lead a successful life.

One of the most important supporting aspects is well-founded psychotherapeutic support. This is due to the particular risks that are likely to affect people with NLD. These include, among other things, the gradual withdrawal from the social environment, the associated isolation and psychological complications.

Adults who did not experience any therapy-specific support in their childhood are most affected. The situation is similar when effective measures are neglected over a longer period of time. Subsequent interventions do not lead to any significant improvement in psychomotor, spatial-constructive or other related difficulties compared to support measures that were started promptly.

For a better understanding of the disorder associated with NLD, a continuous accumulation of knowledge is recommended, both by relatives and those affected. A positive way of life can be supported and continuously developed in this way.

You can do that yourself

Since the consequences of the disease already become apparent during the first years of life, it is important to diagnose this disorder correctly at an early stage and to take targeted countermeasures. The disorder otherwise leads to social isolation in small children in kindergarten or preschool. Those affected are often excluded from the groups or even bullied. In order to prevent or at least mitigate this process, it is important to inform the educational staff about the child’s disorder. If possible, an educational facility should be found for those affected where the caregivers already have experience with a non-speech learning disorder.

In addition, parents should ensure that a child psychologist is consulted as early as possible, who will decide whether and when to start with behavioral therapy, which is almost always necessary. If the child also shows motor deficits, as is often the case, physiotherapy and occupational therapy must be initiated at an early stage. The motor skills of the patients can usually be significantly improved in this way.

Since those affected usually do not have reduced intelligence, parents should also look as early as possible for a school that allows their child to obtain a higher education qualification despite the non-linguistic learning disorder. The reduced ability to communicate with others must also be taken into account when choosing a career. The Federal Employment Agency offers parents and young people special advice on this.