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He was diagnosed at 6 years old with a non-verbal learning disorder...

I can't tell you how happy I am to have found this site. I have a 9 year old son with Asperger's. He was diagnosed at 6 years old with a non verbal learning disorder, and attends a school for children with ADHD and/or Aspergers. As his parent, I feel overwhelmed, scared, frustrated, and completely alone. I am hoping to find other parents who understand the issues we face daily, and who can share thoughts and ideas. I'm really hoping this site might be the life ring that keeps me from drowning!


Youngsters with NLD are very verbal, and may not have academic problems until they get into the upper grades in school. Often their biggest problem is with social skills.

NLD is very much like Asperger Syndrome (high-functioning autism). It may be that the diagnoses of Asperger syndrome (AS) and NLD simply provide different perspectives on a heterogeneous, yet overlapping, group of individuals sharing at least some common aspects. AS and NLD are generally thought to describe pretty much the same kind of disorder, but to differ in severity—with AS describing more severe symptoms.

Signs of NLD—

• Anxiety, depression, low self-esteem
• Attention to detail, but misses the big picture
• Concrete thinking; taking things very literally
• Difficulty with math, especially word problems
• Excellent memory skills
• Fear of new situations
• Great vocabulary and verbal expression
• May be very naïve and lack common sense
• May withdraw, becoming agoraphobic (abnormal fear of open spaces)
• Messy and laborious handwriting
• Physically awkward; poor coordination
• Poor abstract reasoning
• Poor social skills; difficulty making and keeping friends
• Trouble adjusting to changes
• Trouble understanding reading
• Trouble with nonverbal communication, like body language, facial expression and tone of voice

Parenting tips for youngsters with NLD—

• Be logical, organized, clear, concise and concrete. Avoid jargon, double meanings, sarcasm, nicknames, and teasing.

• Be very specific about cause and effect relationships.

• Get your son/daughter into the therapies they need, such as: occupational and physical therapy, psychological, or speech and language (to address social issues).

• Have your son/daughter use the computer at school and at home for schoolwork.

• Help your son/daughter learn coping skills for dealing with anxiety and sensory difficulties.

• Help your son/daughter learn organizational and time management skills.

• Help your son/daughter out in group activities.

• Keep the environment predictable and familiar.

• Learn about social competence and how to teach it.

• Make use of your son/daughter’s verbal skills to help with social interactions and non-verbal experiences. For example, giving a verbal explanation of visual material.

• Pay attention to sensory input from the environment, like noise, temperature, smells, many people around, etc.

• Prepare your son/daughter for changes, giving logical explanations.

• Provide structure and routine.

• State your expectations clearly.

• Teach your son/daughter about non-verbal communication (facial expressions, gestures, etc.). Help them learn how to tell from others’ reactions whether they are communicating well.

• Work with your son/daughter’s school to modify homework assignments, testing (time and content), grading, art and physical education.

• Bullying is unacceptable. Your son/daughter's school must make every effort to prevent it. If talking to your son/daughter's teachers and principal does not put an end to the victimization, ask your son/daughter's doctor to write a letter to the school, and pursue the issue up to higher channels in the school district if necessary.

• Encourage your son/daughter to develop interests that will build their self-esteem and help them relate to other youngsters. For example, if your son/daughter is interested in Pokémon, pursuing this interest may open social doors for them with schoolmates.

• Reassure your son/daughter that you value them for who they are. It's a little tricky to help your son/daughter improve social skills, and at the same time nurture their confidence to hold on to their unique individuality.

• See if you can find a small-group social skills training program in your school system, medical system, or community. This kind of program will probably not be available in smaller communities.

• Steer your son/daughter toward a playmate they have something in common with and set up a play date. This is a way to get some social skills experience in a small, controlled, less-threatening way.

• Talk to your son/daughter in private after you have gone with them to a group activity. You can discuss with them how they could improve the way they interact with other youngsters. For example, you might point out that other youngsters don't feel comfortable when your son/daughter stands so close to them. Help them practice the social skills you explain to them through role-playing.

• These youngsters need as few handicaps as possible, so make sure your son/daughter is getting the counseling, therapies, and/or medication they need to treat any other problems or medical conditions they might have.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums


Anonymous said...

Reading this article I completely relate. My only regret with my daughter is not working more when she was younger to help her with her social skills. I focused a lot on making sure her academics did not suffer. It seemed ok until she started middle school last year. She is now in a teen Social Skills group outside of school and already I see a difference. She has gained some impulse control and has more confidence around her peers. I can't stress how important it is to help them develop these skills. I know some parents choose to home school but I always feared that would handicap her for life socially. We won't be here forever to protect them.

Anonymous said...

Oh, you are in the right place! This is a wonderful support group and the parents here truly understand. My son was diagnosed with Asperger's at the very end of 3rd grade, 9 years old, after struggling through school. He is only 11 now, 6th grade -- brilliant, but quirky! Every day there is a new surprise, a new challenge. I am one who celebrates all that he is -- I don't see this as a disability, it is an extraordinary difference. Still, not easy, not for a minute. ♥

Anonymous said...

My daughter is truly a delight and it sounds like your son is as well! Meeting more children like her I think in some ways they are more free than we are because they appear to be absent of ego or malice. School is tough for every kid. You have to be their advocate and guide them. I won't always be here, I want her to stand on her own and shine.

Anonymous said...

I just wish I could get some support, The process for us is still very raw and we have to wait 13 months for a full assessment but as of now he is showing development and behavioural issues and red flags towards Aspergers and I am at my wits end, all they could say was " keep doing what you are doing"..Im ready for breaking down, cant keep going like this!

Anonymous said...

Is anyone here from Staten Island maybe we could all meet for coffee some where.
Yesterday at 10:27am · Like

Sorry Im from the UK.
Yesterday at 10:29am · Like

Anonymous said...

I can so relate to this article, thanks for posting. Never hear of NLD, sounds so much like my 9 year old son. Having him tested for ADHD this month. Having him in a main stream class room is the worst!! and he is the only aspie at his school!! So not much knowlege at the school where he goes.
23 hours ago · Like

Anonymous said...

This is a really helpful site.

Anonymous said...

My dd is 13 and dx NVLD in 4th grade, I have been finding that sooo many of the articals on here for AS have been very helpfull for her as there isn't much out there for nvld support specifically. She is in a social skills class this year at school which is really helping.

Anonymous said...

My son is 8 and they have a great program in his school to help with social skills; we reinforce empathy at home as well. This is a very good group and if you can find meet ups or other parent groups in your area, it can be very helpful to share ideas and tips... or just vent.

Anonymous said...

I can so relate to this... my son is in 2nd grade, not yet diagnosed with anything in particular (besides Kaiser's lovely diagnosis of "Apergers-like-traits"), but has had extreme behavior and social issues since starting Kindergarten. He is SUCH an awesome, funny, smart little kid - until you get him around other kids. It is so hard dealing with this... I feel very alone sometimes because many people just don't understand.
about an hour ago · Like

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…

Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

Click here
to read the full article...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content