SolveYourProblem eLearning Series: Learning Disabilities
The Bottom Line On Learning Disabilities

( 50 articles in this series )



Asperger Syndrome (AS) vs
Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NLD)

Part of the autism spectrum disorders, Asperger Syndrome (AS) is a type of developmental disorder. This particular group of neurological conditions is usually accompanied by repetitive thought and behavior patterns and degrees of communication and language impairment. Unlike most children with autism, Asperger children will retain their early language skills. Unlike children with Nonverbal Learning Disorder, Asperger children donít have a problem with other forms of communication. They have other types of learning disabilities that include speech as well as other areas. AS children tend to be very obsessive on a particular object or topic they have interest in and stay fixated on only that. They will actually know everything there is to know about their topic of fixation and will talk about little else. In contrast, a child with NLD will know how to verbalize anything to which is being discussed.

Children with Asperger Syndrome tend to have repetitive routines or rituals and have peculiarities in their speech and language. They have a tendency to be emotionally and socially inappropriate and have difficulties interacting positively with peers. Many AS children have problems with nonverbal communication, but it isnít the same as NLD children. It isnít that they cannot understand anything other than verbal. They tend to not be able to see outside of themselves. They do share the same motor control issues and clumsiness of NLD children, though. The largest reason for Asperger childrenís isolation is their narrow interests and poor social skills. Their inappropriate and eccentric behavior can make making new friends hard, even though they will approach others. Compounded by the obsession on only one topic or interest makes peer socialization limited and may also cause others to withdraw from wanting to play with them. Many AS children will also experience motor skill developmental delays that make riding a bike, playing on outdoor climbing equipment, or playing catch very hard to learn.

Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NLD), also called Nonverbal Learning Disabilities can often times go undiagnosed and not be noticed well into a childís school career, unlike AS. A child with a nonverbal learning disability cannot understand other forms of communication and has a hard time reading and retaining information. Because of their extraordinary gift of verbalization they are often thought to be gifted, unlike AS children. Their disability is not recognized until after a few years in school and sometimes later. Like AS children, NLD children can have problems relating to peers and donít take to change well. They are capable of playing many types of games and have a variety of interests as long as the rules are repetitive and verbally given. They tend to also have the same clumsy nature and difficulty in motor skills, especially the finer ones. Children with Nonverbal Learning Disorder tend to be great in school in the first few grades where constant verbal clues and instruction are given. Also, during those grades most teachers are actively involved with their students and they are not left to do things on their own.

Once schoolwork becomes more independent as the school years progress, the NLD child will start to loose control of what they know. They have no idea what to do with out verbal instruction or constant verbal clues. Reading is not understood and they cannot find where they are just by familiar landmarks. These children have a hard time retaining learned material and are often late or get lost. Unlike AS children that might take more time to learn these skills but are capable with much less trouble. AS children can read and write if they are interested or made to interested in a subject. It is their solitary interest that holds them back, not inability to process other forms of communication as with NLD children. NLD children are also labeled as disruptive, rude, lazy, and difficult. This not true they actually work hard and try to learn as much as possible but their disability robs them of the ability to comprehend anything nonverbal. AS children have been labeled the same but their difficulty lies in their inability to see beyond the one interest they have. So their concentration leaves and they cannot stay focused. There are many similarities between NLD and AS, but there are several differences. They may appear outwardly similar but the underlying issues that cause them are very different and they require a totally different set of treatments for rehabilitation.

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