Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

Nonverbal Learning Disabilities at School

Posted by nliakos on June 27, 2008

Educating Students with NLD, Asperger Syndrome, and Related Conditions, by Pamela Tanguay. London and new York: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2002.

How I wish I had read this book years ago, when my daughter was struggling in elementary and middle school and I couldn’t figure out how to help her! How I wish her teachers had read this book! I would like to give a copy to each of the schools she has attended (seven now), to help them to recognize NLD in other children before it is too late.

Pamela Tanguay, of NLD on the Web, has written a very practical book for educators (but good for parents also). Included in the eleven chapters are an entire chapter on “Arithmetic and Math”, one on “Reading, Spelling, and Vocabulary,” one on “Penmanship, Writing, and Composition” and one on “Organization, Study Skills, and Homework.” These give very specific advice on how to teach, and how not to teach, children with NLD of different ages. There are also more general chapters on the school environment, teaching strategies, social and emotional functioning of the child with NLD, and spatial and psychomotor challenges.

The book is probably way too idealistic. The kinds of accommodations Tanguay recommends are so far-reaching that I doubt they could ever all be put into place. It would require teachers to teach whole classes as if all the children had NLD! It would also take far more time than teachers have. Tanguay warns that every accommodation and strategy that is not used places a road block in front of the NLD student, setting her up to fail. (I wonder how actual NLD students who manage to graduate from high school and college and even go to graduate school succeed, because they surely did not have all of Tanguay’s recommended accommodations!)

Still, some of her advice would not be too difficult to implement, and certainly every teacher who has a child with NLD should read this book. If it does nothing else, it may convince the teacher that the child is not being lazy or noncompliant when she cannot do what she is told. Tanguay reminds us that since these children are fluent talkers with large, often precocious vocabularies, people often assume that they are smart in other ways as well, or could be if they just tried hard enough or paid attention. Tanguay explains, for example, that people with NLD cannot attend to two modalities at once, so if the teacher demonstrates something as she explains it, the whole lesson is wasted on the NLD child. The teacher must first explain verbally, and only then demonstrate. You can see how this would be awkward and time-consuming to implement in a real classroom–especially if only one child requires it. Yet it explains much about the struggles of these children.

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One Response to “Nonverbal Learning Disabilities at School”

  1. […] [Technorati] Tag results for disabilities wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt Educating Students with NLD, Asperger Syndrome, and Related Conditions, by Pamela Tanguay. London and new York: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2002. How I wish I had read this book years ago, when my daughter was struggling in elementary and middle school and I couldn’t figure out how to help her! How I wish her teachers had read this book! I would like to give a copy to each of the schools she has attended (seven now), to help them to recognize NLD in other children before it is too late. Pam […]

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