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Nonverbal Learning Disorder

May 4, 2008

There is disagreement regarding the precise relationship between NLD and Asperger’s autism. Some researchers and clinicians treat them as the same. Others do not. It may be useful to keep in mind that psychiatric diagnoses do not, unlike many physiological diseases, point to precise biological etiologies (causes). They are symptom complexes, i.e., constructs.

Here is an article which argues that the two are basically the same:

NLD is not a DSM-IV-TR category. It is a term used by neuropsychologists. A person diagnosed with NLD by a neuropsychologist might well be diagnosed by a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist with Asperger’s or, perhaps, PDD-NOS.

In other words, the neuropsychologists may have been observing the same underlying set of symptoms as those psychiatrists who observed Asperger’s – just labeling it differently. I see the inclusion of NLD in the DSM-V to be unlikely, since even NLD experts are divided over whether it is simply a highly nuanced category of Asperger’s.

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