autism podcast

Jennifer Purcell Interview with Dr. Levy

Topic: Living with an Invisible Learning Challenge

Date published: 7/28/23

Listen to the full podcast here

In this podcast, Dr. Levy discusses nonverbal learning disabilities and strategies that can help students with NVLD thrive in school. 

Individuals with nonverbal learning disabilities typically have many strengths but also exhibit academic challenges. For instance, they may have difficulty with reading comprehension, especially inferencing, and understanding abstract language. They often have trouble breaking down and solving math word problems, and may struggle with executive functioning skills, such as planning, time management, task initiation, and prioritization. Learning strategies for developing these areas of weakness can help students with nonverbal learning disabilities perform well in school.

To build their reading comprehension skills, it is helpful to teach students with nonverbal learning disabilities to be active, rather than passive readers. For instance, instead of asking them to simply read a passage and answer reading comprehension questions, it may be helpful to teach them a highlighting strategy for active reading. To do so, explain to them that when we read, there are three elements to look for: the topic, which is one, two, or three words describing the passage; the main idea, which is what the author is saying about the topic; and the important details, or salient information describing the main idea. They should highlight the topic in blue, the main idea in green, and the important details in yellow. Explain that they should read the passage in full one time, then go back through the passage and highlight the topic, main idea, and important details using the corresponding colors. We teach students this strategy and many others in our special education tutoring programs.

To develop their math word problem solving skills, students with nonverbal learning disabilities may benefit from the COINS strategy, which teaches them to move from language to arithmetic and back to language. To use this strategy, they should read the word problem, then circle the relevant information (C), identify the operations(s) to use (O), write down the relevant information (I), create a number sentence (N), and then write the solution as a full sentence in their own words (S).

For executive functioning, students with nonverbal learning disabilities may benefit from concrete strategies and executive functioning coaching to build their organization, planning, time management, task initiation, and similar skills – along with how to apply these strategies to their relevant schoolwork. Read more about building stronger executive functioning skills at How to Build Executive Functioning Skills With Homework – EBL Coaching.

Students with nonverbal learning disabilities have the potential to do very well in school. With these strategies for building their reading comprehension, math word problem solving, and executive functioning skills, they will be well on their way to academic success. 

Read more at Nonverbal Learning Disorder | Psychology Today.

Dear Dr. Levy, My son received an excellent report card. I can’t say enough good things about his EBL tutor. She has done a tremendous job helping him improve his reading and writing skills. Most importantly, she is wise and kind. She is always patient with him. Because of his tutor, my son writes with much more ease.
– Parent