So last night I went to my first ever Nonverbal Learning Disorder meeting. Up until September I had never met anyone (except on line) who had a child with the same disorder as Matthew. Last night was a dream come true for me. It was wonderful to sit in a room with others who actually walk in my shoes and have children who walk in Matthew's!
Nonverbal learning disorders (NLD) is a neurological syndrome consisting of specific assets and deficits. The assets include early speech and vocabulary development, remarkable rote memory skills, attention to detail, early reading skills development and excellent spelling skills. In addition, these individuals have the verbal ability to express themselves eloquently. Moreover, persons with NLD have strong auditory retention. Four major categories of deficits and dysfunction also present themselves:
•motoric (lack of coordination, severe balance problems, and difficulties with graphomotor skills). - Matt doesn't have balance problems. He's more just clumbsy.
•visual-spatial-organizational (lack of image, poor visual recall, faulty spatial perceptions, difficulties with executive functioning* and problems with spatial relations).
•social (lack of ability to comprehend nonverbal communication, difficulties adjusting to transitions and novel situations, and deficits in social judgment and social interaction).
•sensory (sensitivity in any of the sensory modes: visual, auditory, tactile, taste or olfactory)
He's a very bright boy but doesn't get any of the nonverbal language. If you think about how much of language is non-verbal, you'll realize just how difficult things are for him. As a result, he doesn't relate well to other people and has great difficulties socially. Life has not been easy for him and to make matters worse, it is a disorder that very few people know about and I'm constantly trying to help others understand him.
Back in September, during a meeting with his teachers at school, I found out that his History teacher also has a 14 yo son who has this disorder. I'm finally starting to feel like we're not alone on this very long road.