Non-verbal Learning Disorders


  • Excellent vocabulary and expression from a younger age
  • Exceptional rote memory skills which might mask learning difficulties in youngsters
  • Excellent attention to detail, but the individual will likely miss the big picture
  • Individual may be early reader or have early reading difficulties – generally has difficulty with reading comprehension in relation to novel or abstract information
  • Mathematics difficulties in areas of computation, word and abstract applications
  • Concept formation and abstract reasoning may be significantly impaired
  • Difficulties generalising information and applying learned information to new situations
  • Strengths mostly in learning relates to simple rote auditory (heard information is remembered)


  • Physical awkwardness and lack of coordination are common – youngsters do better in individual rather than team sports
  • Difficulty learning to ride a bicycle, catch and/or kick a ball, hop and/or skip
  • Physical difficulties may be more pronounced on the left side of the body
  • Fine motor skills may be impaired handwriting, may be poor presentation and/or laborious
  • Significant problems with spatial perception are quite common


  • Interpretation of information is more concrete and literal
  • Less able to process nonverbal communication body language, facial expression and tone of voice may be lost on them
  • Unable to read between the lines (impacts conversations and reading comprehension)
  • Weaker social skills and have trouble making and keeping friends


  • May have difficulties adjusting to new situations, or changes to their routine
  • Can lack common sense, or street smarts, and can be incredibly naïve
  • Anxiety and/or depression are common, especially during adolescence
  • Can have low self-esteem
  • Can be withdrawn and they may become agoraphobic