NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) and Violent Behavior--Long Post


New Member
I have a friend who has a fourteen-year-old son with violent behavior. He currently has been suspended from his private school for assaulting a female student and telling off a teacher. My friend is in a bitter divorce battle with her husband, and he has temporary custody of the boy, while the courts decide who will get permanent custody, which she wants to have. The father is talking about removing the child from private school and placing him in public school.

I am wondering if the public school can put the child directly in alternative school placement, once they see his history? Personally, I think he is emotionally disturbed and alternative school would be the best placement in the public system, more for the safety of the child's fellow students and his teachers, than anything else.

The child was diagnosed with NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) when he was eight, but neither parent wanted to label him. One of the primary reasons was that he was extraordinarily bright academically, and he currently is in private school on an accelerated track. They thought labeling him would hurt his future in college and the work force. Though this may sound paranoid, both parents work for the government and have jobs which require high security clearances, so I think their attitudes stem from their own realities and what they know of the world.

The mother wants him re-evaluated, but the father does not, and the father has temporary custody. The court-appointed social worker doing the homestudy for the custody appears to be pretty worthless and ineffective. When the mother told the social worker that the child had been diagnosed with NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD), the social worker told the mother off, saying, "This child is not non-verbal!" I kid you not. The mom responded with a two-page letter to the social worker's supervisor, and the social worker returned with an apology and said she "misunderstood" what the mother was saying with NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD). Ahem. Even after the suspension from school, the social worker has yet to contact the school or talk to anyone there. She's been on the case since January.

This child is in bad shape, right now, and my friend wants my advice. I thought I would turn to you guys to give me some advice, some things for me to consider that I may not know, some ideas on school placement, etc. I really care for my friend, her husband, and their child, but I also care for the other students and teachers at the school he is/will be attending, for they deserve to be safe from his raging.

I have known this child since he was born, and I have not seen him rage; however, I have been concerned about him since he was a toddler, and he would walk up to other children, kick the heck out of them, then stand back and smile, while the child screamed. My son and he are friends, and my son may be the only friend this child has. Because he does not have friends, he has spent extended time in our home, which has included two week stays (he lives in a different town), and I have never seen him rage. I should note, however, that I watch him closely, and when I see him shutting down, I tell my son to back off and leave him alone. My son and I have discussed the child's issues in depth, so my son understands and stays away when the child starts shutting down. Last summer when the child stayed here for two weeks, he spent a day by himself--uncommunicative.

It's been a very long time since I have posted here, but I came here years before seeking help for another friend, whose daughter was abusing drugs, and my friend needed to find a therepeutic boarding school for her child. Today, after attending a boarding school for a year, the child is doing very well, is drug free, and has graduated from high school, so I know the advice the members here give to help parents deal with children who have severe behavior issues is excellent. Thanks in advance for any ideas.


You are a good friend.

It's good to hear your other friend's child is doing so well.

Regarding the current situation, to get the placement the child needs, the school district would have to do an evaluation and the child be deemed "eligible" for special education.

In years past, the school district wherein the child resides was responsible for "Child Find." For children in private schools, it's my understanding that the law has changed a bit. The new dictates responsibility according to the location of the private school. To quote:

Child Find for Parentally-Placed Private
School Children With Disabilities
(§ 300.131)
Comment: A few commenters
recommended permitting the LEA
where private schools are located to
request reimbursement from the LEA
where the child resides for the cost of
conducting an individual evaluation, as
may be required under the child find
requirements in § 300.131.
One commenter recommended that
the LEA where private schools are
located be responsible for locating and
identifying children with disabilities
enrolled by their parents in private
schools and the LEA where the children
reside be responsible for conducting
individual evaluations.

Discussion: Section 300.131,
consistent with section 612(a)(10)(A)(i)
of the Act, requires that the LEA where
private elementary schools and
secondary schools in which the child is
enrolled are located, not the LEA where
the child resides, is responsible for
conducting child find, including an
individual evaluation for a child with a
disability enrolled by the child’s parent
in a private elementary school or
secondary school located in the LEA.
The Act specifies that the LEA where
the private schools are located is
responsible for conducting both the
child find process and the initial
evaluation. Therefore, the LEA where
private schools are located may not seek
reimbursement from the LEA of
residence for the cost of conducting the
evaluation or to request that the LEA of
residence conduct the evaluation.
However, the LEA where the private
elementary school or secondary school
is located has options as to how it meets
its responsibilities. For example, the
LEA may assume the responsibility
itself, contract with another public
agency (including the public agency of
residence), or make other arrangements.
Changes: None.

Unfortunately, the parent(s) does not have to allow the evaluation. Without the evaluation, and without the student qualifying for an IEP, the student will not likely get what he needs. School districts can attempt to override a resistant parent via due process, but that doesn't happen very often.

I fear this couple will have to come to the realization that they will need to refer their child for an evaluation under IDEA 2004 regs and advocate vigourously for appropriate placement (because mainstream doesn't sound like it will work based on what you've written) OR accept the fact that zero tolerance policies will land their son in the juvenile justice system where he will have little to no chance of getting what he needs.

I'd encourage them to be proactive in getting this process started by a parent referral -- via certified mail.


Active Member
FYI: The law specifies that either the private school or the parent can request the evaluation through the public school district. I was just involved in a situation where the private school decided the child didn't qualify for an evaluation so didn't put the referal forward. Parent contacted the district directly and had an appointment within a week.