Children with Special Needs #3 Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities

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In our everyday life, we use verbal and non-verbal cues to communicate with each other. Sometimes we understand another person's cues but there are times that we are confused.

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What are the verbal cues?

A verbal cue is a prompt that can be conveyed by spoken language from one person to another. Verbal cues can be seen as the following:

  • Tone and pitch in your voice.
  • Stalling Techniques
  • Using the wrong tense
  • Using No in four different ways (Nooo, Quick no's, no with increase eyeblinks, machinegun nos
  • Using but
  • Changing words.
  • Dropping tenses
  • Using distancing language

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What are the non-verbal cues?

Non-verbal cues are those you use not by speaking, but by using body language and tone.
Non-verbal cues can be the following:

  • Change in behavior
  • Shoulder shrug with a definitive statement.
  • Micro-expressions that don't fit within the situation.

What is the difference between verbal and non-verbal cues

Watch this video by Susan Caldwell about the difference between verbal and non-verbal cues

Video by Susan Caldwell

What is a non-verbal learning disability?

A non-verbal learning disability is characterized by a discrepancy between the higher verbal skills and the weaker motor, visual-spatial and social skills.

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There are a variety of signs and symptoms that are used to identify non-verbal learning disability:

Signs and Symptoms

  • They have trouble recognizing non-verbal cues like facial expressions or body language.
  • They show poor psycho-motor coordination:
    • Clumsiness
    • They seem to constantly get in the way.
    • They bump into people and objects.
  • Using fine motor skills like tying shoes, writing and using scissors is a challenge to these individuals.
  • These individuals need to verbally label everything that happens in order to comprehend the circumstances, spatial orientation, directional concepts, and coordination.
  • They have a difficulty coping with changes in their routing and transitions.
  • They have a difficulty generalizing with previously learned information.
  • They struggle to follow multi-step instructions.
  • When they make translations it tends to be literal.
  • They tend to ask too many questions and it may appear to be repetitive and inappropriately interrupt the flow of a lesson.
  • They may seem to be very competitive due to their strong verbal skills.

How to accommodate learners with a non-verbal learning disability in your classroom.

  • Provide the learners with explicit instruction to pick up on social cues.
  • Create daily routines and importantly stick to it.
  • To assist the learners to write the class schedule on the board.
  • Before you transition from an activity have certain words that will assist the learner with transitioning.
  • Assign a peer buddy to the learner, in such a way they will be able to help each other.
  • Let these children choose where they want to sit.
  • When you teach a lesson to make sure you speak clearly and plainly. Don't speak to complicated.
  • Teach them certain strategies to help and assist them within the social structures.

Just like all children these children are special but should be treated equally to others!


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