He Fits the Mold Well.

I found it. I have identified Shane’s learning issue.

I think Shane has something called nonverbal learning disorder. It is rarely diagnosed because kids tend to do fine without it being diagnosed. The symptoms are all oddly fitting to Shane, and the largest of the symptoms is that the learning disorder has nothing to do with verbal skills.

Kids with nonverbal learning disorder generally are very intelligent, and have a large, solid vocabulary by a young age. But as they grow older, it’s sometimes noticeable that they miss social cues, take things too literally, and struggle with some subjects in school, especially math.

Shane hates math. He loves numbers and is very interested in number patterns and statistics, but math is hard for him. At one point, I thought he might have dyscalculia, which is like dyslexia with numbers. But he doesn’t have most of the dyscalculia symptoms.

And he fits the mold well. Here’s some of the description of kids with nonverbal learning disorder by Leslie Packer, PhD:

“They may have outstanding rote memory skills and attention to auditory detail…. Do not let their strong rote memory or attention to detail mislead you: these children ‘see every tree but can’t understand a forest.’ Although they may have an excellent retention of material presented orally, they don’t always comprehend or ‘get’ the subtleties and nuances of language. Impaired in problem-solving skills, they may fail to apply or generalize previously learned skills to new situations or materials…. Visual-spatial deficits are also reflected in poor visual recall, faulty space perceptions, and poor sense of directionality…. Poor comprehension of visually presented material is one of the hallmark characteristics of NLD, and there is often (but not always) a significant Verbal IQ – Performance IQ discrepancy on intelligence tests.”

He does have most of the symptoms of nonverbal learning disorder – except two. He is not clumsy or uncoordinated, which is commonly (but not always) associated with this disorder. He does have the horrific handwriting also associated with NLD.

BUT… Shane had vision processing therapy, which specifically worked on coordination issues. So he is substantially less uncoordinated than he would have been without therapy.

The more I read about this particular disorder, in fact, the more I think Shane has it – and the more I think I might have it as well. Something about being incapable of solving simple problems… it’s like I lack common sense. Maybe this is why!

Or maybe neither one of us has it.

The really interesting thing is: we can’t treat it anyway. It is recommended that those who have it … just learn to adapt.


  1. Kirsten says:

    He’s actually exceptionally coordinated – partially thanks to work as a youngster in vision therapy, and partially thanks to getting his Grandad’s athletic genes!

  2. Keith says:

    How come Shane can beat his Grand dad at ping pong if he has this NLD? He’s really good.

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