If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it: Letting LD people do what they can do

People with learning disabilities often have problems with certain tasks. For people with NLD, those tasks tend to be in nonverbal communication. But sometimes LD people (including NLD people) do things, but do them in a different way from most people.

Many people with NVLD have trouble with math. I don’t have much trouble with math (I’m a statistician) but I learn math differently from most people. Most people prefer to learn math visually. This occurs from the most basic math to the most advanced. I, however, prefer to learn math nonvisually. This is so unusual that we don’t even have a good word for it – the word varies depending on the math, but it could be called numerically or algebraically or symbolically. Visualization never helped me much.

I urge you to use the comments to say ways that you (or your child or spouse or whoever) does things well but differently. Maybe this will help parents, teachers and even we LDers ourselves to not fix what isn’t broken.


  1. Hello Peter,
    Your site is interesting. My son has nonverbal learning disorder and is headed to college in the Fall on a couple of engineering scholarships. He too, seems to understand mathematics well. He too, is not a visual learner and I am wondering how this will affect his ability to learn mathematics in college. He is an almost freakish auditory learner. Do you have any suggestions for him as he dives into physics, calculus, and chemistry this semester?

  2. He’s probably already discovered some things that work for him, if he got a scholarship!

    Since he’s an auditory learner, I’d say try to listen, maybe even record lectures. If he can, maybe get a friend to take the course with him – preferably someone who might not be quite as bright, but takes good notes.

    For math, try to find a book that offers a less-spatial approach. Also, most students will have a hard time with the proofs and an easier time with the examples. If your son is like me, he will be just the reverse. This suggests studying together.

  3. I have NLD and I cannot learn math without someone showing it while explaining how to do the problem at the same time. With word problems you have talk me through it because I do not understand how to draw the information out needed to mathematically solve it.

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