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Guidance and Colleges for Students with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities

written by: •edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 4/26/2011

It can be daunting to think about sending a student with a non verbal learning disability to college. Will he or she fit in? Will he or she be able to keep up with the coursework? There are many questions to consider. Luckily, well-equipped universities help students with learning differences.

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    Why it is Important to Find a Good Fit

    One of the challenges students with non verbal learning disabilities face is finding a college where they fit in well. Because such students struggle socially as well as academically, they need to be in an environment that can help them to make the best of themselves and where there will be support for specific learning disabilities.

    One of the difficulties in finding a good college for students with non-verbal learning disabilities (NLD) is that this term can mean different things to different people. Students with NLD can have symptoms that mimic other learning disabilities such as Asperger's syndrome. Pamela B. Tanguay notes that students with NLD may exhibit the following characteristics:

    • Coping with an NLD in college can be frustrating. There is a discord between verbal IQ and actual ability
    • Students are gifted when it comes to verbal memorization
    • Students have a difficult time with concepts and abstract thought
    • Students may often have hcallenges in math or with word problems in math
    • Students tend to be auditory learners as opposed to visual learners
    • Students may easily pick out details, but might have a very difficult time grasping the larger picture
    • Students may have difficulties when it comes to reading comprehension
    • Students with NLD may have a difficult time picking up on social cues and non-verbal communication
    • Individuals diagnosed with NLD may find their coordination to be slightly "off"
    • Individuals with NLD may find they have a lot of problems with anxiety and/or depression

    While not a comprehensive list of the various traits that might be exhibited by someone who has been diagnosed with NLD, this list shows some areas where it will be important to find a school amenable to students struggling with this specific learning disability. Students will need a strong support system, they will need to receive assistance with their work, and they will often need help when it comes to psychological care.

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    State Colleges and Universities

    The first place to start when you are looking for a school amenable to making accommodations for a student with a learning disability is to look at the state colleges and universities. Not only are these schools more economical, but many of the state universities also feature centers geared toward assisting students who have learning differences with transitioning to college life and with succeeding in their studies. Some of the best colleges for students with nonverbal learning disabilities include:

    • San Francisco State University - In addition to having students with Asperger's syndrome and autistic students, San Francisco State University features support for students who need help communicating with professors, organizing their life and time, and with subjects they struggle in. Additionally, there are scholarship opportunities for students with registered disabilities.
    • Georgia State University - Georgia State features assistance for students with disabilities - including weekly disability coaching and counseling sessions. It can be a great option for students who might otherwise struggle and find themselves lost in their studies.
    • Michigan State University - Michigan State University is a great option, especially for students who struggle in math. Students with NVD can elect to take exams in the learning resource center once they have been registered as having a legitimate disability.
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    Private Universities

    In addition to public universities, there are private universities that are really good for students with NLD. Here's a rundown of a few of the universities and the services they offer to help you get an idea of what is available in terms of academic life.

    • Columbia University - This University provides resources and diagnostics for students with learning disabilities. There are accommodations made for students with NLD and the university provides workshops for professors to better learn how to reach students with diverse learning styles.
    • Stanford University - Stanford provides many accommodations for students with NLD and other learning disabilities, and they provide a large network of support. In addition, Stanford offers many resources for university students not attending this institution on disabilities and disability law.
    • Gannon University - Gannon University, a small Catholic institution, features many supports for students with NLD. Students receive meetings twice a week with tutors and counselors, receive many accommodations, and may even be assigned a scribe to take class notes for them.
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    Register Your Disability!

    There are many other schools - you should take into account both the department you are applying to and the school's support services for students with disabilities. Make sure that any school you apply to offers support services for students with learning disabilities. You should contact the learning resources center of each college you consider applying to to discuss your particular situation. Finally, once you are accepted to a university, be sure to register your NLD! You may only receive resources and support services if you do so.

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    Tanguay, P. "Nonverbal Learning Disorder: Common Characteristics"

    San Francisco State University

    Georgia State University

    Michigan State University

    Columbia University

    Stanford University

    Gannon University

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