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Nonverbal Learning Disorders

Nonverbal Learning Disorders
Kimberly Frazier Baker, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
July 5, 2013
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This text-based course is a transcript of the event, “Nonverbal Learning Disorders” presented by Kimberly Frazier Baker, Ph.D., CCC-SLP.

Kimberly Baker: Hello and thank you. I am going to get started today talking about nonverbal communication and nonverbal learning disorders and I am going to address this as a speech-language pathologist. How can we help these students with nonverbal learning disorders in the classroom to be successful in the academic arena? First of all, the name is a little misleading for a number of reasons and we are going to talk about that a lot today. I have given very similar workshops in the state of Arkansas and on the national level about this disorder. I usually give this workshop for educators, not speech-language pathologists and invariably most of the participants end up a little disappointed because they come to the workshop thinking they are going to learn how to work with children who are nonverbal. I think that is because the name of the disorder is a little misleading being ‘nonverbal learning disorder.’ But in fact these individuals are very verbal.  They do not have issues with verbal language but in fact they have many issues with nonverbal communication.

It is another misleading type of name for the disorder because for one thing it is a learning disability or learning disorder. Typically when we think about learning disabilities and learning disorders we think about disorders of language. For example, children with a reading learning disability will have problems with the language skills necessary to learn to read. Math concepts are language skills. A language learning disability again involves language and so these students who have nonverbal learning disorder do not have those types of issues with language that we typically see in a learning disability. So again it is a little misleading from that perspective.

Another way it is misleading or confusing is that as I am talking about these children with nonverbal learning disorder you can recognize the degree to which the characteristics are very similar to some of the other children that we see on our caseloads and quite frequently in our classrooms.  We’ll discuss that later.

Nonverbal Communication

Why do we as speech language pathologists need to be concerned with something that is nonverbal? It is because we treat people who have problems with not being verbal. So why would we see these individuals? We need to understand the importance of nonverbal communication. We, as speech-language pathologists are all about verbal communication. We are all about the left hemisphere. We are all about language form and language content.


kimberly frazier baker

Kimberly Frazier Baker, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Kimberly Frazier Baker, an assistant professor, joined the faculty at the University of Arkansas in 2007.  She is a speech-language pathologist with more than 20 years' experience working with children with communication disorders.  Dr. Baker has extensive clinical experience and has worked in public schools, public health, and private practice settings addressing the communication and behavioral issues of children with developmental disabilities.  Dr. Baker is a frequent speaker at state, regional, and national conferences.  She received her Ph.D. in speech-language pathology from the University of South Carolina and her undergraduate and master's degrees from the University of Arkansas. She holds the Certificate of Clinical Competence in speech pathology and is licensed to practice speech pathology in the state of Arkansas. 



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