What are
non-verbal learning

Nonverbal learning disabilities are disorders of presumed neurological origin resulting from diminished or disordered functioning in the right hemisphere of the brain. The right hemisphere is the area of the brain which processes nonverbal or performance-based information, including visual-spatial, intuitive, organizational, evaluative and holistic input.

Three broad categories of problems are often observed in children and adults with nonverbal learning disabilities: motorist dysfunction (lack of coordination, balance problems and difficulty; visual-spatial disorganization (poor visual spatial analysis, disordered spatial perception, and difficulty with spatial orientation; and poor social cognition (difficulty interpreting non-verbal social cues such as gestures, body language and tone of voice; difficulty adjusting to transitions).

Like Asperger’s syndrome, NLD exists on a spectrum where it frequently co-occurs with other conditions such as learning disabilities, ADHD, mood, and anxiety disorders.*

Ongoing debate surrounds the relationship between Asperger’s syndrome and NLD, as research on the condition progresses and procedures can differ from AS research. In the proposed DSM-V, the condition is not recognized and will not be included in the 2013 version.

How is LDI a good program
for young adults with NVLD?

Since 1982, the Life Development Institute (LDI), a private community-based organization located in Glendale, Arizona, has served thousands of older adolescents and young adults from around the world struggling with Nonverbal learning disorders , ADHD, learning disabilities, Asperger’s syndrome, or related conditions overcome the often demoralizing effects from years of school, social, and personal achievement failures by providing them the instruction, “real world” experience and practical tools needed to lead meaningful, productive and independent lives.

Using a strength-based (non-disability) approach, our evidence-based, peer-validated pragmatic model is designed to address the specific developmental, academic and career needs of under-prepared students with NVLD 17 years of age and older through several levels in their transition to independent and self-supported living – from earning a high school diploma, starting college to achieving careers through employment compatible with their unique capabilities.

The identification of specific major life demands in LDI’s curriculum is based on the behaviors that any individual- disabled or not- will need for personal success in their specific communities. They represent the events/activities typically encountered by most adults in everyday life such as starting/sustaining/completing a major life activity, completing school, being able to support oneself, engaging in a career, making informed decisions, and having healthy adult relationships.

The program focuses its classroom instruction on achieving mastery of specific, major adult life demands in the areas of career planning, social/emotional maturity, establishing independence & competitive job development/placement- which are based on the behaviors that any individual- disabled or not- will need for personal success in their home communities.

LDI is part of the community, not an “island’. It provides a supportive campus, inclusive residential community, and access to institutions of higher learning that provides the education, skills and training needed to live independently.The usual limitation of similar residential or boarding school situations is that they are “sheltered” or “clinical” in their orientation whereas our setting is an actual apartment complex-not a dormitory, institutional setting, or group home.

The Institute is authorized to enroll and provide M-1 visas for nonimmigrant foreign students by the Department of Homeland Security , is fully accredited through the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation & School Improvement, multi-agency vendor approval & private party paid.


What improvements have been recognized in students with NVLD after completion of the LDI program?

  • Makes logical connections between personal wants and needs across a variety of adult life decisions.
  • More self-aware of how their behavior affects the positive development of peer relationships. Significant reductions of “off the wall” comments unrelated to the conversation or circumstances.
  • Awareness and improved performance in commonly accepted and practiced social graces.
  • Less avoidance-type behaviors due to increased practice and personal responsibility in dealing effectively with the perceived risks of “failing.”
  • Can make informed career planning decisions by utilizing a system of tools/methods that recognize & build on individual assets and manage functional limitations.
  • Demonstrates independent ability to identify, enroll, and complete college or career programming with passing grades/scores.
  • Able to conduct an independent job search, interview, accept and retain competitive employment for at least 120 continuous days.
  • Comprehends and appreciates that employers expect all employees to perform certain job functions in specific ways.
  • Understands and complies with the policy/procedure demands of a particular work setting.
  • Successfully lived on own, managed daily tasks of independent living, and begin to support themselves financially.

Learn More

If you wish to receive additional information about Life Development Institute and how we can help you or your child, please complete this form.

You may also contact our Admissions Manager at (623) 773-1545 to discuss your needs.

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