August 12, 2002
Dear (School Psychologist):
I would like to provide some information to the team regarding my daughter’s learning disability for the meeting that I requested be held in the beginning of the school to bring everyone up to speed on what a nonverbal learning disability is. I will not be attending the meeting as I feel that would be counterproductive. .
I am going to tell you something you may already know. I have a delightful child. She is intelligent, articulate and well read. She is also an enthusiastic learner and an avid participant in class. This past school year was her most difficult ever, because of the amount of written work required of sixth graders, plus the extra time it takes to complete work when you have a learning disability and dysgraphia.
Before I provide any information on my daughter’s way of seeing the world I would like to provide a description of what it feels like to have this disability, from a child’s point of view. This is written by a woman who has NLD and is now a teacher, which is my daughter’s most likely future career choice.
"Imagine a group of children about to run a race. The track is divided into sections, the dust is rising, and a cheering crowd awaits the children at the other side. The children toe the line. They hear the blast of the gun; they’re off and running. One child starts off as eagerly as the rest. But she crashes into an invisible wall. She rubs her nose, steps back, and feels the wall with her hands. Puzzled, she looks at the other children racing along with no obstacles. Shrugging in confusion, the child begins the arduous process of scaling the wall. Gasping for air, she arrives on the other side and wearily finishes the last lap of the race. When she crosses the finish line there are no cheers or encouraging words. Instead, she is chided for her lateness and lack of effort. The child looks back at the obstacle, as invisible to her as to the rest of the world. Hanging her head, she prepares for the next obstacle, wondering once again why life is so much harder for her than for all the other children. " Growing Up with NLD by Deborah Green
Locker – Due to spatial issues student's locker needs to be on the top, at the end of the row, with no one under.
Late work – there should be no points taken off for work that is considered late. If she understood the assignment, remembered to bring home the book or paper required to do the assignment, then it was done. It may take time to be turned in due to organizational and short term memory issues. There should also be no points taken off for forgetting to write her name on a paper. This has nothing to do with responsibility, it truly is part of the disability.
Writing issues- due to dysgraphia, this student should never be required to do work in pen or in cursive. She owns an alphasmart, and will bring it to school when and if needed. Child should have access to lecture notes and notes from film strips, study guides where blanks need to be filled in with the proper answer later required for a test, etc. Because she writes very slowly she gets flustered when a lot of writing is required of her in a short amount of time. At home, long writing assignments are often dictated by her or typed. She has all the information, just getting it to paper can be a frustrating process.
Following directions, especially on tests and quizzes – often directions are not clearly understood by this student. They need to be explained clearly and sometimes more than once. Many times this student has not clearly understood directions for an assignment and done more work than required, or will do poorly on a test not because she didn’t know the material, but because she didn’t understand how it was to be presented.
Crowded worksheets are very difficult for this student. Often information is missed simply because she can not fit it on the space provided. Because of spatial issues, word search puzzles should not be required of this student at all. She can usually give an answer to a question, but will have much more difficulty trying to find that answer upside down and backwards surrounded by a lot of other confusing letters.
No more than 2 tests or quizzes in one day. Parent and student understand how difficult scheduling is for teacher and staff, and that they are often not aware of what each other is assigning. It takes a lot of preparation time for this student to study for tests and quizzes. She is well aware of this provision in her IEP and can advocate for herself when more than 2 tests are assigned. Student or parent will make special ed staff aware of the situation, then we need to be informed which 2 tests will be scheduled and when other test is to be rescheduled to.
Hours of Homework – It is exhausting to get through the school day with a non verbal learning disability. This student likes to come home and have a lot of down time before settling in for more work. Several more hours of home work is counterproductive. No more than 1 hour of homework should be required, excluding test study.
Labs can be difficult because of following directions. Student may require extra assistance.
Tests - .student does well with 2 days notice - complete notes, study guide and/or general idea of content covered in test. Studying takes a lot of effort and should be focused on material the student will be tested on.
Extra books – Student often forgets to bring required materials home and often has to return to school. It is helpful to have an extra set of books at home, which will be returned at the end of the semester.
Math is modified for this student, but math skills at grade level are required in other courses, including science and social studies. This student should not be required to do latitude and longitude tracking. It is too confusing due to spatial problems. This student also should not be required to use the metric system as conversion is too difficult and as student is learning life skills math, this is something that she really doesn’t need. Student also has difficulty converting scientific information to or from a graph or chart.
No lates getting to class –student has spatial issues and sometimes gets lost or loses track of time, which is related to her learning disability.
Understanding rules student is very motivated to follow the rules of the classroom. There will be times where a misunderstanding will occur, which will be related to her learning disability and not to defiance. This child should not have privileges taken from her due to something that is disability related.
Homework actually making it home can some times be a problem if it is a work sheet. Parent will write a note to request an extension if something is forgotten at school and we were too late to retrieve it.
Literal translation – student is a literal thinker it is hard for her to "think outside the box". Does not grasp main idea of story, concentrates on small details.
Assignment book- this is the best way to keep parent informed and for student to track her work.
Specials – may also require modification, depending what is required. Student should not be required to take sewing due to fine motor and spatial issues. Parent would like her to take cooking, as that is a life skill student needs to master.
Organizational problems- student may need to go back to her locker for something that she forgets and should not be penalized for it. She is really trying to get everything she needs and wants to please her teachers, but short term memory issues can wreak havoc with this.
Social issues – this particular student has been the butt of teasing and negative peer interaction, and may require some support. Guidance is helpful with social skills groups. Student does not get inferences and social skills are that of a younger child. Also a supportive adult can be invaluable to this girl, when peers are not accepting of her differences.
Punctuation requires rules that student often forgets from year to year. She may need to be reminded be begin a sentence with a capital, end with a period, and where commas go.
I apologize for the amount of information I have sent you, but I find myself having to explain the same thing over and over year after year usually after my child has been penalized for something disability related, so I thought I would have this information available in advance. My daughter is a hard working honor roll student, who can do well with the right support
Please contact me if I can be of any assistance in educating the educators about my precious child.