Violent Child with NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD)--Long but really need help


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.


Active Member
You will want to post a copy of this post to the Special Education board here at CD. A private school that doesn't specialize in difficult children doesn't sound like a very good placement for this boy.

I would advise that this parent consider having this child evaluated by a neurologist for issues like seizures and other neurological issues that could be mimicing NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) or compounding the problems. Sometimes when behaviors are very aggressive like this there are other issues going on that are being missed because there seems to be an explanation.

Have the parents considered medication treatment? If all else is failing that would be a legitimate option to explore.


I'm sorry your friend is struggling so much with her son. It really sounds like a very difficult situation.

While I don't have advice on the school placement issue -- SRL is right that Martie and Sheila on the Special Education board are the ones who will -- I agree that this boy needs a re-evaluation ASAP. While I understand the parents not wanting to label their child, they need to consider what is in his best interests. That involves knowing exactly what is contributing to his violent behavior so the proper interventions are put into place to meet his needs. In addition to an evaluation by a neurologist, I'd recommend testing by a neuropsychologist. Since it has been 6 years since he was diagnosed with NLVD, it is important to know where he stands at this point.


Active Member
Sometimes a public school is better equipped to follow through an IEP, which the kid needs to provide him with resources and accomodations to help him with his difficulties. A label is needed to get help, but help means going beyond the label.
I suggest you help your friend write a letter to the social worker , a type of parent report , her concerns for her son, her opinion , assessment of his difficulties , using examples etc , the need for an evaluation and an IEP for school and guidance for other caregivers.
I would use this caregivers handout and others resources maybe Chandler papers to help you describe the child's issues

since the parents are seperated, the child's voice is pretty important. I think some one has to reach out to him and help him become part of the solution to find help.
Without help the kid will never aquire the emotional intelligence to cope with life.
She needs her husband's cooperation and of course her son's.



Well-Known Member
My guess is that the NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) isn't the whole picture. A NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) requires a 20 point spread between verbal IQ and performance IQ. I have been diagnosed as severe NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD)--verbal IQ is over 120 and performance is 85. While frustrating and difficult to explain to others, the NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) isn't the reason I have had trouble--it's the bipolar/moodswings. A NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) can closely mimic Aspergers, however I was told I don't have Aspergers as I'm way too friendly and animated. I agree. I would want this child evaluated by a neuropsychologist. You may suggest that to your friend. In a few years, he'll be 18 and she won't be able to help him anymore. Time is of the essence. I think this boy needs to be in public school, where they are equipped to modify his curriculum and deal with his behaviors.


Active Member
Thanks, MWM. As soon as I saw that you had replied, I was comfortable, feeling you would say what I would on this.

Basically, especially where there has been a history of parents resisting assessment and 'labels', it increases the chance that what labels there are, are inaccurate. So much more could have been found if he's been assessed earlier, before that highly intelligent brain adapted and learned to hide his disorder (whatever it is) as much as he could manage. It's normal for people to do this, he's not being deliberately deceptive beyond an innate desire to try to fit in.

They're worried about what a label will do to their child - this is pure paranoia and totally pointless. Do you think that people don't know? A class teacher will be having trouble with a child and be wondering what it could be, but THEY can't drag him off to a specialist. The school counsellor may look in, but schools getting involved independent of the parents - they don't get far.

It's not generally done, that parents will have a child assessed when that child is completely 'normal', with no signs or symptoms. We don't spend money for complex assessments when the child is functioning perfectly well and there is no apparent reason to.
If we have concerns about our children, it is because we see something that worries us, or someone else sees something that concerns them. So if the parents noticed odd things, then chances are, so have others. Hey, you've seen it and he's not your child.

it is far better to have an appropriate label from a qualified specialist, than no official label but a general gossipy "steer clear of that kid, he's strange."
Which is going to be more potentially damaging for a career path?

These days a label of Asperger's or ADHD is no barrier to getting a job - in fact, it can be an advantage. the boss knows that such a person is highly intelligent, very interested in what he chooses to do and likely to be able to concentrate on his preferred area of interest to a greater level than most. Aspies tend to be scrupulously law-abiding and loyal. Here, a label is an advantage.
Also, for a lot of workplaces, there can be government assistance to the employer if you hire someone with a learning difficulty (at least there is in Australia).

Forget about paranoia over labels. Concentrate on how the child will best access the good education he needs to get here in the first place. And access is the key - a kid who gets no support when they need it, or gets suspended for behaviour they can't control, is missing out on education. Without that, a future on welfare looks much more likely.



New Member
Midwest Mom,

My son was evaluated with a 14 point difference. I'm not sure when you were tested but wonder if those numbers can change over time. I'm hoping the spread will diminish with time for my six year old, but maybe it doesn't work like that. Sorry to get off topic.