Life Development Institute Serves Students who have Nonverbal Learning Disabilities (NVLD)
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Life Development Institute Serves Students who have Nonverbal Learning Disabilities (NVLD)

In looking at a variety of educational programs, students, families, and professionals often wonder who would be an appropriate student.

In general, LDI offers a high school program, a residential program, and a summer academy for students ages 16 and older who have nonverbal learning disabilities, specific learning disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ADHD, and other social or learning issues. While some people have a general idea or understanding of these conditions, there are a number of specific and significant differences. Therefore, LDI will be offering a series of blogs that contain information about ASD, ADHD, Learning Disabilities, and similar related conditions that will detail how LDI assists in enhancing the education, workplace and life successes of its students.

To begin this series of blogs, LDI serves students ages 16 and older who have Nonverbal Learning Disabilities (NVLD), which have presumed neurological origin resulting from diminished or disordered functioning in the right hemisphere of the brain.  This part of the brain processes nonverbal or performance-based information, including visual-spatial, intuitive, organizational, evaluative and holistic input.

Three broad categories of problems are often observed in children and adults with nonverbal learning disabilities: motoric dysfunction (lack of coordination, balance problems and difficulty; visual-spatial disorganization (poor visual spatial analysis, disordered spatial perception, and difficulty with spatial orientation; and poor social cognition (difficulty interpreting non-verbal social cues such as gestures, body language and tone of voice; difficulty adjusting to transitions).  Like Autism Spectrum Disorder, NVLD exists on a spectrum where it frequently co-occurs with other conditions such as learning disabilities, ADHD, mood, and anxiety disorders.

Using a strength-based (non-disability) approach, LDI’s evidence-based, peer-validated pragmatic model is designed to address the specific developmental, academic, and career needs of under-prepared students with NVLD through several levels in their transition to independent and self-supported living.  The levels can include earning a high school diploma, starting college, and achieving careers through employment that correlates with their unique capabilities.  The identification of specific major life demands in LDI’s curriculum is based on the behaviors that any individual, disabled or not, will need for personal success in their specific communities. They represent the events/activities typically encountered by most adults in everyday life such as starting/sustaining/completing a major life activity, completing school, being able to support oneself, engaging in a career, making informed decisions, and having healthy adult relationships.  LDI’s program focuses its classroom instruction on achieving mastery of specific, major adult life demands in the areas of career planning, social/emotional maturity, establishing independence & competitive job development/placement, which are based on the behaviors that any individual, disabled or not, will need for personal success in their home communities.  

In fact, persons with NVLD have seen the following improvements in their lives after graduating from Life Development Institute:

  • Make logical connections between personal wants and needs across a variety of adult life decisions.
  • Become more self-aware of how their behavior affects the positive development of peer relationships. Significant reductions of “off the wall” comments unrelated to the conversation or circumstances.
  • Awareness and improved performance in commonly accepted and practiced social graces.
  • Less avoidance-type behaviors due to increased practice and personal responsibility in dealing effectively with the perceived risks of “failing.”
  • Can make informed career planning decisions by utilizing a system of tools/methods that recognize & build on individual assets and manage functional limitations.
  • Demonstrate independent ability to identify, enroll, and complete college or career programming with passing grades/scores.
  • Able to conduct an independent job search, interview, accept and retain competitive employment for at least 120 continuous days.
  • Comprehend and appreciates that employers expect all employees to perform certain job functions in specific ways.
  • Understand and comply with the policy/procedure demands of a particular work setting.
  • Successfully lived on their own, managed daily tasks of independent living, and begin to support themselves financially.

This has been a special needs program update from Life Development Institute. You may also click here to read the original article on the main program website.