Non-verbal learning disorder is a learning disorder that has many traits commonly associated with autism spectrum disorder. Like those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), children with non-verbal learning disorder usually start to talk around 2 years of age (the age at which speech normally develops). They often have excellent memorization skills needed for reading and spelling. Also, they share a desire to form relationships but often fail because of poor social skills.
But these conditions are not the same. Children with non-verbal learning disorder have some distinguishing characteristics. A hallmark trait of the disorder is difficulty learning from the visual environment. Although they are poor visual learners, children with non-verbal learning disorder often excel at remembering information they hear. Children with ASD are also good at remembering information they hear.
Children with non-verbal learning disorder often have difficulty with math, because math is often explained in a visual context and these children lack non-verbal reasoning skills.
While many people with ASD have non-verbal learning disorder, not all do. Likewise, many people with non-verbal learning disorder do not have ASD. Although these disorders are separate, they both involve similar differences in processing information and those affected may benefit from the same types of treatment.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics Donald Sproule, MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerFred R. Volkmar, MD - Pediatrics, Psychiatry Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics