Often Overlooked Learning Disorder May Affect Millions of Kids

Published by: PychCentral
Written by: Rick Nauert 

New research suggests nonverbal learning disability (NVLD), a poorly understood and often-overlooked disorder that causes problems with visual-spatial processing, may affect nearly 3 million children in the United States.

A new study by led by Columbia University Irving Medical Center is the first to estimate the prevalence of NVLD in the general population. If accurate, the prevalence of NVLD makes it one of the most common learning disorders.

The study appears online in JAMA Network Open.

“NVLD is a huge and hidden public health burden,” said Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, chair of psychiatry at the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and Director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

“This important work might never have come to light if not for the support of dedicated advocates and their philanthropic support. We hope that these findings raise awareness of the disorder and lead to an understanding of its neurobiology and better treatments.”

The name of this neurodevelopmental disorder may be part of the problem. Children with NVLD are not nonverbal, as the name suggests, and have no difficulty reading. Instead, children with NVLD have difficulty processing visual-spatial sensory information, which can cause problems with math, executive function, and fine motor and social skills.

“Children with this disorder might shy away from doing jigsaw puzzles or playing with Legos,” said lead author Amy E. Margolis, Ph.D., assistant professor of medical psychology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. Click here to read the rest of the story.

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