Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2011

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Northup, John

Second Advisor

Wilgenbusch, Tammy

First Committee Member

Lindgren, Scott

Second Committee Member

Ehly, Stewart

Third Committee Member

Richman, Lynn

Fourth Committee Member

Santos, Ann M Garcia


Children who have Nonverbal Learning Disabilities (NLD) exhibit strengths in verbal domains and deficits in perceptual reasoning domains. These children are often seen as bright and may even be identified as gifted due to their superior decoding proficiency, expansive vocabulary, and remarkable rote memory skills. Conversely, psychosocial difficulties such as acquiring self-help skills and interacting with others appropriately often present serious challenges. Children with NLD may also vacillate between internalized (e.g., anxiety) and externalized (e.g., acting out) behaviors and are commonly seen as unmotivated, defiant, and oppositional. Given the potential psychosocial difficulties that children who have NLD experience, it is imperative that early and effective interventions are accessed. In order to provide appropriate treatments, the identification of factors that occasion psychosocial difficulties is warranted. Thus, the primary purpose of the study was to identify specific NLD characteristics based on specific demographic variables of age, gender, parent education, and number and types of other diagnoses. Further identification efforts compared the Pediatric Behavior Scales (PBS) of Conduct, Attention, Depression, Anxiety, and Deviation to both General Ability Index (GAI) scores and Verbal Comprehension and Perceptual Reasoning (VCI/PRI) discrepancy scores on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children - Fourth Edition (WISC-IV). Identical analyses were performed for a Dysphasia contrast group. A secondary purpose of this study was to add to the growing body of evidence suggesting the existence of NLD subtypes. Analyses conducted indicated that children in the NLD group had significantly more diagnoses, higher mother and father education, and higher VCI and GAI scores than those in the Dysphasia group. In addition, children in the NLD group held substantially more ADHD diagnoses whereas the Dysphasia group supported more Dyslexia and Dysnomia diagnoses. Further analyses showed relationships between GAI and the PBS Depression scale, GAI and both mother and father education, and VCI/PRI discrepancy and number of diagnoses for the NLD group. PBS Conduct, Attention, and Deviation scales and VCI/PRI discrepancy were correlated for the Dysphasia group. Overall, results revealed that NLD and Dysphasia groups presented different social and emotional symptomology. In addition, there is tentative support for the presence of NLD subtypes. Future areas of research and treatment recommendations are provided.


Dysphasia, Nonverbal Learning Disability, Social/Emotional, Students


vii, 84 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 75-84).


Copyright 2011 Carrie Ann Kimpton Heald