Syndrome of nonverbal learning disabilities: Psycholinguistic assets and deficits

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It is usually observed that, following an initial delay in speech acquisition, children with the syndrome of nonverbal learning disabilities (NLD) go on to exhibit well-developed speech and language skills. There is, however, comparatively little appreciation of the full extent of their deficits in linguistic skills. The NLD syndrome is so named because all of its clinical presentations are thought to arise from deficits that arc primarily nonverbal in nature. The psycholinguistic dimensions of NLD that constitute integral features of its developmental picture, are thought to arise because of the primary, secondary, and tertiary assets and deficits outlined in a developmental model that we have developed (Rourke, 1989,1995a). It is clear that a superficial consideration of the speech and language of children with NLD would be misleading; there is a great deal to be understood through close examination of the qualitative aspects of their linguistic skills. Our discussion of the psycholinguistic dimensions of NLD is presented within the context of a framework developed by Bloom (1988) who has described language as consisting of the three basic dimensions of form, content, and use.

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