Questions and Answers
Question #28


Questions and Answers

Questions and Answers


Question # 28

What are the time frames within which NLD assets and deficits evolve?
What are the synergies that may obtain within these time frames?

The model of the developmental dynamics of the NLD syndrome posits a set of cause-effect relationships for its neuropsychological assets and deficits (see NLD Content and Dynamics). It speaks to the issues of temporal sequencing as well as the synergistic interactions among and between these assets and deficits. It does not, however, address the time frame(s) that may obtain in the developmental progression of the assets and deficits. Indeed, it would appear quite probable that the time lapses between the “steps” in the model could range from a very short time to a number of years. The model explicitly allows for synergies between and among the assets and deficits as these evolve over the course of development, and suggests that issues such as time frames and synergies would be a fruitful avenue of investigation.

For example, it would seem obvious that weak visual-spatial-organizational skills would lead to weak visual-motor skills. What may not be completely obvious (but is predicted in the model) is the probability that the weak visual-motor skills would have a negative impact upon visual-spatial-organizational skill development. That is, it would be expected that there would be a synergistic relationship between these dimensions.

At the same time, it would be reasonable to infer that rapidly developing rote verbal skills would occupy “centre-stage” in the child’s day-to-day activities, thus effectively reducing even further the frequency and intensity of the practice necessary for psychomotor development. In this sense, the rich (e.g., some verbal skills) would be expected to get richer, and the poor (e.g., virtually all visual-spatial-organizational and visual-motor skills), poorer.

Finally, there are a number of neuropsychological synergies that appear to have largely negative and cumulative developmental impacts on academic, psychosocial, and vocational functioning for persons with NLD (Casey, Rourke, & Picard, 1991; Rourke & Fuerst, 1995; Tsatsanis & Rourke, 2003). The interested investigator may wish to examine other examples of interactions/synergies, such as those between and among aversion for novelty, grossly limited exploratory behaviour, and problem-solving and concept-formation skills. These are, of course, some of the important synergies that formed the "building blocks" for Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development (Piaget, 1952). The hypothetical involvement of these in our neurodevelopmental model has been explicit since its earliest formulation (Rourke, 1982).


Casey, J. E., Rourke, B. P., & Picard, E. M. (1991). Syndrome of nonverbal learning disabilities: Age differences in neuropsychological, academic, and socioemotional functioning. Development and Psychopathology, 3, 331-347.

Piaget, J. (1952). The origins of intelligence in children. New York: International University Press.

Rourke, B. P. (1982). Central processing deficiencies in children: Toward a developmental neuropsychological model. Journal of Clinical Neuropsychology, 4, 1-18.

Rourke, B. P., & Fuerst, D. R. (1995). Cognitive processing, academic achievement, and psychosocial functioning: A neuropsychological perspective. In D. Cicchetti & D. Cohen (Eds.), Developmental psychopathology (Vol. 1, pp. 391-423). New York: Wiley.

Tsatsanis, K. D., & Rourke, B. P. (2003). Syndrome of Nonverbal Learning Disabilities: Effects on learning. In A. H. Fine & R. Kotkin (Eds,), Therapists guide to learning and attention disorders (pp. 109-145). New York: Academic Press.

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