WHAT IT IS, DEFINITION
It is a neuropsychological disorder related to a dysfunction in the right hemisphere (some neuroimaging studies consider the possibility of an anomaly in the white matter connections of the right hemisphere), the cause currently unknown. There is no consensus among the scientific community or current diagnostic manuals regarding the disorder.
Children with NLD present significant difficulties in certain skills such as psychomotor coordination, impaired perceptual and spatial skills, as well as problems in social relationships as it is hard for them to interpret some of the nonverbal cues that regulate social interaction and communication like gestures, irony or different tones of voice. However, they present an adequate or superior development in vocabulary and verbal reasoning.
WHY IT IS IMPORTANT. IMPACT ON DAILY LIFE AND DEVELOPMENT
The difficulties of child with NLD revokes significant deterioration in school, family and social life:
Need for increased dedication to study and homework.
Increases in risk of school failure, despite being children with normal intelligence.
Difficulties in developing skills related to personal autonomy in dress, personal hygiene or food .
Difficulties in social interaction causing deterioration in social life, difficulty making friends, joining groups, being invited to events, etc.
Emotionally this produces significant distress in the child which can translate into low self-esteem and self-concept, even depression or anxiety.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS IN ITS DEVELOPMENT?
- Difficulties in graph-motor development.
Poor handwriting which can be even unreadable
Difficulties with fine motor skills: little strength in hands for classwork such as tearing, clay modeling, coloring, cutting with scissors, etc. Also in handling musical instruments, using a pencil sharpener, This also affects household chores like managing utensils, buttoning clothes, lacing shoes, using keys, etc.
Difficulty in coordination dynamics, reflected in clumsiness in throwing, kicking a ball towards a target, skipping, cycling, ...
Related to spatial awareness difficulties:
- Difficulty in drawing: representations of everyday objects such as the human figure, a house or tree, which are done as if by a younger child. This difficulty also appears in copying more complex drawings.
- Difficulty in spatial awareness: to identify right / left, imitate gestures, integrate body scheme.
- Difficulty in doing puzzles tangrams or tetris.
- Difficulty in orientation on paper: margins, line spacing, distribution of available space. Their books are chaotic.
Difficulty in properly placing the numbers in mathematical operations , copying from board, understanding and interpreting notes from pentagram, etc.
Difficulties in communication and social interaction, even when with the intention of making friends:
Difficulty interpreting nonverbal gestures such as tone of voice, gestures or facial expressions.
Literal interpretation, hard to understand jokes, irony, puns and metaphors.
Disorganized oral speech.
Strange prosody (artificial , monotonous or pedantic tone of voice ).
Difficulty performing verbal inferences or written information, e.g. drawing conclusions, morals or deductions.
Lack of sense of opportunity due to not properly capturing gestural signals.
Naive. Impressed but easily fooled and teased, deceived, or even harassed.
Difficulty in remembering faces.
Difficulty facing new situations, may seem passive and with low initiative.
Tendency toward isolation due to frustration accumulated in relationships with peers.
HOW WE CAN HELP
Intervention in children with NVLD is psycho-pedagogic type, there is no medical treatment, it is necessary for educational assistance to be performed both at school and in the family context. A minimum of coordination is important in intervention in both environments. In some cases it is also necessary for external specialized professionals to perform specific stimulation of the symptoms most affected, or for rehabilitation programs conducted by specialists within the school itself. In any case, psycho -educational assessment will determine the specific needs of educational support and the most suitable model of intervention. Some basic guidelines can be considered.
In school it is important that:
The teaching staff knows the strengths and weaknesses of the student, and measures to be taken in each area.
Prioritize the more nuclear aspects of the curriculum more than those of secondary character.
Sequence learning for those students who show difficulty, take smaller steps.
Reinforce the strengths of the student such as oral language, auditory memory or mental arithmetic.
Place students together with classmates who exert a positive influence and favor learning.
Avoid criticism and constant reproaches regarding slowness or poor handwriting that can discourage and seriously damage the self-esteem of the child. Instead focus on valuing achievement however small.
Oral explanations must be clear and concise, avoiding metaphors and double meanings to ensure understanding.
With these students, work at a slower rate than other students. Measures can be taken such as avoiding copying sentences, proposing exercises with short answers, join with arrows, etc. Select fewer exercises for both classwork and homework.
Choose the type of notebook, pattern, writing tools which contribute toward better handwriting and spatial structure on paper. Visual cues (margins, starting points, guiding arrows) will help organize and achieve better presentation.
Adapt examinations to give more time, take care in forming questions avoiding piled up words and unstructured questions. Use oral assessment to enhance the strengths of the student.
As regards social interaction, it is important to create a climate of respect and safety in school for the child, enhance their strengths before others, teach social skills, promote cooperation and support among students, do not allow ridicule or humiliation and especially look out for students at break time who may be more vulnerable to harassment/bullying and address their complaints.
At home, the child with NVLD will need a lot of support, help and adjusted requirements to overcome difficulties in their daily lives:
They will need more time and training to learn certain manual skills, such as tying laces or using utensils.
Doing homework is one of the most difficult problems for families to address. It is important to provide a relaxed atmosphere and limit homework time ensuring that children have time to play. Use positive reinforcement and above all recognize the effort that has been made.
Promote social relationships through extracurricular activities, going to the park, invitations to friends’ homes, sports, etc.