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Nonverbal Learning Disability

The majority of learning disabilities that a child may have are language-based.  These include deficits with the child’s reading boy readingachievement as well as written expression.  Researchers have found that there is a small percentage of children that demonstrate adequate or above average verbal functioning; however, they have significant weakness with their nonverbal reasoning. Researchers and educational specialists have characterized this specific condition as a Nonverbal Learning Disability (NVLD).  Currently, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not have a specific diagnosis for these children and, instead, these children are typically diagnosed with a learning disorder that is not otherwise specified.

Areas of Cognitive Weakness in Children with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities:

  • Visual-spatial awareness
  • Visual organization
  • Tactile and perceptual reasoning
  • Psychomotor functioning
  • Nonverbal problem solving skills
  • Difficulties with mathematics
  • Pragmatic (social) language
  • Social interactions

Areas of Strength in Children with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities:

  • Rote verbal memory
  • Phonemic awareness
  • Verbal reasoning
  • Reading

It is important to identify children that have speculated NVLD’s areas of strength and weakness in order to develop the most effective intervention plan.  It is often that intervention for these children is multi-faceted and can consist of:  social work support to help with socialization and interaction, speech-language therapy to help with pragmatic language functioning, academic tutoring to help with mathematics and executive functioning support and/or occupational therapy in order to help develop visual spatial functioning, tactile-perceptual reasoning and motor abilities.

Click here to learn all about Learning Disabilities 

Warning Signs of a Learning Disability

Prevalence rates of Learning Disabilities have an average range of 2-10%. While we aware of the negative impact that learning learning disability girldisabilities may have on achievement, when identified early, your child can be given the opportunity to meet their potential.

Below are 7 signs that may suggest that further evaluation may be needed:

  1. Uneven delays in development that persist to school age
  2. Inconsistency in your child’s performance and retaining of information
  3. Your child seems to need extra time to process information, learn concepts and complete work.
  4. You notice an increasing, strong dislike for school
  5. Your child routinely avoids academic tasks
  6. There is a sudden drop in achievement or a consistent pattern of under-achievement
  7. You recognize a change from your child’s typical behavior or mood presentation (e.g. opposition, anger, sadness, anxiety, inattention or negative self-statements)

It is important to know that children with learning disabilities are not lazy. The opposite is more often the case; they are highly motivated and want to learn.

What can you do if you suspect learning difficulties?

  • Bring your concerns to your child’s teacher. Develop a plan that will implement interventions and monitor your child’s response.
  • If problems persist, request that an evaluation to be conducted. This evaluation can be done through the school, but it may take several months to complete. Parents may wish to seek a private evaluation for faster results.
  • Closely monitor the progress your child is making with any strategies that are put into place.
  • A final and very important point is to provide opportunities for your child to be successful everyday. This will help them feel a sense of mastery and achievement that all children require.

1.Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision. (2000). American Psychiatric Association: Washington, D.C.

Are Premature Babies Delayed?

The term premature refers to any infant that was born earlier than 37 weeks of gestation. Premature births occur in 10% of all live births. Premature babies (“preemies”) are at risk for multiple health problems, including breathing difficulties, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, and delays in their gross and fine motor skills.

Premature baby

Why are babies born pre-term?

The cause of premature labor is not fully understood. However, there are certain risk factors that can increase the likelihood of premature labor: a woman that has experienced premature labor with a previous birth, a woman that is pregnant with multiples (twins, triplets, etc), and a woman with cervical or uterine defects. Certain health problems can also increase the risk of premature labor, including diabetes, high blood pressure and preeclampsia, obesity, in-vitro fertilization, and a short time period between pregnancies.

What are the effects of being born pre-term?

In addition to multiple medical complications, a baby that is born before 37 weeks of gestation is at risk for developmental problems in gross motor skills, fine motor skills, sensory integration, speech and language skills, and learning. The baby may take longer to reach specific developmental milestones or need help to reach those milestones. The earlier babies are born, the more at risk they are for having delays. Each child is different as well, and no two preemies will be delayed in exactly the same manner.

If you or your pediatrician suspects that your baby is developmentally delayed, there are a variety of professionals that can assist your child in achieving his or her full potential. A physical therapist can help facilitate development of gross motor milestones such as sitting, crawling, walking, running, or jumping. An occupational therapist can help develop fine motor skills such as object manipulation, hand-eye coordination, and reaching, as well as sensory integration. Speech therapists can help improve language skills and articulation.  Consult with your pediatrician or talk with one of our Family Child Advocates to receive more information on setting up an evaluation with a skilled therapist at NSPT.

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Child Struggling In School | Pediatric Therapy Tv

Today’s episode answers a question from a viewer.  The mother asks if she should be worried that her son’s teacher tells her that her son has a hard time paying attention in class.  Pediatric Neuropsychologist Dr. Stasi answers her with what her next steps should be.

In This Video You Will Learn:

  • If a parent should listen to a teacher’s concerns even if the parent disagrees
  • Figuring out the why’s of the child’s struggle
  • What the goal of an evaluation is

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I am your host, Robyn Ackerman. Today I’m standing here with pediatric neuropsychologist Dr. Greg Stasi. Doctor, we have a question from Tina from Arlington Heights. Tina asks, “My son’s kindergarten teacher says he has a hard time paying attention in class. I think he is just being an active boy. Should I be worried?”

Dr. Stasi: Thank you. Tina, that’s a great question. I get a lot of parents coming in and telling me that their child struggles to pay attention or that the teacher told them that he has trouble paying attention on a day-to-day basis. Should the parent be worried? I don’t know. It’s a concern, and the teacher has the best viewpoint as far as identifying whether or not the child pays attention. She is comparing him to the peers in the classroom.

The goal is to identify the ‘whys’. Why is this child struggling? Is it because it’s ADHD? Is it because of some type of learning disorder, that the child has difficulty comprehending the text? Is it a language disorder, that they are really not comprehending what is being instructed to them? Or is the child bored? The goal is to get an evaluation and figure out why is the child struggling and then we can move forward. Thank you.

Robyn: Thank you very much, Dr. Stasi, and thank you, Tina, for submitting your question. And remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at LearnMore.me. That’s LearnMore.me.

Submit your own question to robyna@NSPT4kids.com (all questions will be answered discretely and question submitters will receive the response in an email as well).

Start The School Year Out Right

A Guide To Meeting With Your Child’s New Education Team

Summer vacation is almost over and the first day of school for many children is on the horizon. The majority of children (and teachers) experience difficulty transitioning from the A Parent and Teacher Meetcarefree days of summer to the rigid structure of school. Children with special needs and learning disabilities are even more likely to exhibit difficulty with the school year. As a parent, it is your duty to advocate for your child in order to ensure that the academic year starts smoothly and that the child’s needs are being met.

I recommend that the parents establish a meeting with the child’s teacher and any ancillary staff that has an impact on his or her academic success (special education teachers, social worker, speech/language therapist, occupational therapist). In addition, it is always recommended that you have your child’s outside therapy team be part of this meeting in order to share information and develop effective strategies. Five specific goals of this initial meeting are listed below:

5 New Teacher Meeting Goals

1. It is important that all individuals working with the child be made aware of the child’s issues as well as what has worked/not worked in the past. It is vital that last year’s teacher have an opportunity to share information with parents about the challenges from the previous year as well as what solutions she has found helpful in the classroom.

2. Any outside therapist needs to be present at the meeting to share how things have been going over the summer. What has the child been working on as part of therapy, what goals were achieved, and what goals were not met. This will help establish expectations for the child.

3. Creation of specific, attainable, and measurable goals is important. If a child is getting out of his seat every five minutes it would not be realistic for his new teacher to expect him to sit for hours on end. We might set up an initial goal so that the child is expected to remain seated for ten minutes. Once that is achieved with regularity we move the goal up to fifteen minutes, and so on.

4. Establish a frequent communication system between parents and teachers. The goal of this is to not bombard teachers with constant emails/phone calls but to be able to have constant communication between all parties so that parents can help organize the daily assignments and ensure that all work is completed.

5. Identify that everyone is on the same team. The goal of this meeting is not to burden the academic staff with more work but to help develop solutions to ensure that the child’s needs are met.

All You Need To Know About Learning Disabilities

How common are Learning Disabilities?

LD Boy

Learning concerns are one the most common neurological issues that children and adolescents present with. It has been estimated that approximately 20% of the general population in the prevalence rates indicate that 6% of the general population meet the necessary diagnostic criteria for a diagnosis of a specific learning disorder.

How are Learning Disabilities Defined?

There is great debate regarding how to accurate define, classify, and diagnosis learning disorders. Traditionally, it was assumed that a specific learning disorder exists when there is a significant discrepancy between a child’s ability (IQ, cognitive functioning) and achievement (performance on standardized reading, mathematics, and written expression tasks). However, there have been recent changes within the USA regarding how to classify and diagnosis learning disabilities. Currently, categorization of a child’s learning disability is based upon a multi-tiered process involving early identification and intervention. This multi-tiered process based approach is labeled Response to Intervention (RTI).

What are the Pros and Cons of RTI?

Researchers who are in favor of the RTI Model of learning disabilities argue that a combination of interviewing and behavioral observations are sufficient for identification of problems as well as to determine appropriate interventions. The RTI Model is most beneficial for children who have emotional or behavioral disorders that result secondary from a defined environmental factor, such as: inappropriate or inconsistent reinforcement or punishment. Read more