When things don’t match: What’s the real stressor?

People with nonverbal learning disabilities often have problems where it is hard to identify the real cause. When the person is a child, it may be even harder for parents or teachers to identify the real stressor.  NVLDers often don’t know what they have done wrong or what is causing them problems.  This is because nonverbal LD is a double invisible disability: Not only is it not visible (unlike, say, being in a wheelchair) but it is in areas that often are hidden (unlike, say, dyslexia).

From the parents’ point of view it can appear like this:

  1. Child gets in trouble (again)
  2. You ask the child what caused the problem and they give some answer that can’t possibly be correct (e.g. I rubbed my eyes)
  3. You ask the teacher and she/he gives some answer that makes sense (the child fell off the chair and sat on the floor)

The interesting thing here is that it is entirely possible that no one is lying. The child may have fallen off his chair, this may have appeared to be a defiant act by the teacher but it may have been inadvertent and the child may not even know that the non-normal behavior is falling off the chair (rather than rubbing his eyes).

What to do?

Many people with NLD respond well to verbal rules. If you say “when you fall off a chair, it disturbs other people” then the kid will understand (but may not be able to sit on a chair).  Then you also need to work with your child the teacher (or the school, or an expert on chairs) to figure out a way to get your kid to be able to sit without falling.


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