QUESTION: What are the treatment goals for pdd-nos and or nvld? You were very helpful last time i asked a question so i am coming back to you again.

ANSWER: Hello Peter,

Thank you for letting me know that my answer last time was helpful. I'm puzzling over your current question though.

I hope you are talking about different people because NVLD and PDD-NOS are different - related, but different. PDD falls within what we commonly call the autism spectrum. Kids who receive a PDD-NOS diagnosis often show many characteristics of having an autism spectrum disorder(ASD), but not quite enough of the boxes are ticked off to warrant calling it autistic disorder. But the variances among the autism spectrum disorders will be a moot point by May of 2013 when the new version of the DSM-V comes out. Asperger's Syndrome, PDD-NOS and autistic disorder will all be rolled into autism.

Kids with nonverbal learning disabilities share some characteristics with kids on the autism spectrum, such possible sensory sensitivities, possible attentional issues and weaknesses in the the social realm. Often Asperger's and NVLD are confused. But, there are a couple differences. Kids with ASDs take in information that they see far easier than that which they hear. If a child with an ASD is having trouble with oral instructions, and you show them a visual representation of what was said, things become clearer for them. But an NVLD child would likely become further confused by your visual; they take in auditory information better than that which they see.

Now for treatment goals. That is a difficult question to answer when I don't know the child. My first thought was that the treatment goal will change all the time, depending on the most pressing need at the time  - a need for the child to be more comfortable and/or productive in his environment. Sometimes the goal would be posed by the family; sometimes by school personnel after observing the child. There may be times, especially as the child gets older, when he suggests the goal himself. I like short-term, measurable goals that have real-life applications.

But, perhaps you're thinking long-term. In that case, I'd suggest that you look to the future. Where do you see that child in five, ten or fifteen years? Where will he be and what will he be doing? What skills do you think he'll need to survive and to flourish? Begin working on those skills years and years in advance.

Above all, I recommend the goal of independence, no matter what that may look like for an individual. Some people with ASDs may be severely affected by the autistic symptoms and also have an intellectual disability. They will require care all their lives, but I would still strive to help that individual be as independent as possible.

Others on the spectrum have higher cognitive ability and may follow a regular academic path. For those, I would worry far less about their actual school marks and focus on the independence skills - how to problem solve, what to do when you're unsure, how to manage time and money, and how to manage your own emotional responses.

It saddens me when I read that less than 10% of young adults with Asperger's Syndrome live independently . Many do all right while they have the supports of the school system. But, once past high school and they attempt college or the world of work, far too many bomb. Some of the research suggests that they've been "over-helped" by well-meaning school personnel trying to do their best. From a parent point of view, it's hard when your child is different and you want to protect them from struggles. If the school offers a nice lady to sit beside him to smooth his way, it's hard not to jump at the change to have your child protected. Yet, too often this protection comes at a cost and so many things are done for the student, that when left alone, he lacks the ability to problem solve independently - a terrible situation for a young person attempting college.

I know I've spoken in generalities. I may not have answered the question you thought you were asking. If you wish to write again with more details, I can possibly be more helpful.

Best wishes this holiday season,

Dr. Sharon A. Mitchell
Author of School Daze-Autism Goes to School (<a href="">)

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I was talking about me actually.  I am 44.  I was diagnosed with both nvld and pdd-nos two years ago at the age of 42 and was originally diagnosed with just nvld at 32. I fall into  "But, once past high school and they attempt college or the world of work, far too many bomb." category. I am so far just trying to educated myself much as i can about these disorders at this point. What else can i do beyond that point?

Sorry Peter. Yes, I do recall our previous discussions.

You're on the right track, learning all you can about these diagnoses, about the challenges and strengths. Just remember that there are strengths to build on.

You can learn from intelligent, articulates who have similar diagnoses and who write about them. Some examples are:

Your Life is Not a Label by Jerry Newport

The Way I See It by Temple Grandin

The Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships by Temple Grandin and Sean Barron

Developing Talents by Temple Grandin and Kate Duffy

Somebody Somewhere by Donna Williams

Pretending to Be Normal by Lianne Halliday-Wiley

The Hidden Curriculum by Brenda Smith-Myles

Anything by Stephan Shore

Have you checked out websites such as: and

If not having finished college bothers you, do it now. Talk to counselors at the campus disability office about accommodations and suggestions. Try taking just one class and look at the possible approaches - online, night classes, regular lectures, etc.

What do you think is holding you back? Anxiety? Depression? Medications can be helpful once you have the right med and the right dose. It also helps if you understand the neuro chemical basis of these conditions.

You can do things. Having NVLD or and autism spectrum disorder may mean that you need to go about things in a different way, not that you are unable.



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Dr. Sharon A. Mitchell


Sharon can help with parenting and educational concerns. She has worked in teaching, special education, counseling and consulting for over thirty years and gives workshops to educators and parents on working with kids with autism spectrum disorders. Sharon speaks from both the education and parent points of view, having an adult son with Asperger's.


Sharon has spent decades as a special education consultant with a school district and autism consult for the province's Department of Education, giving workshops and individual consults. Currently she works as regional autism consultant for a health district in between teaching university classes. She is an Amazon bestselling author or a series of novels, each depicting a child who has an autism spectrum disorder. Sharon's Master's thesis looked at the long-term outlook for persons with high functioning autism and Asperger's. Her Doctorate focused on strategies to help those with autism spectrum disorders.

Website at and sits on Autism Today's Panel of Experts (

Author of "Autism Goes to School" - a novel about autism that that became an Amazon bestseller. Get this Amazon bestseller free at In the next book, Autism Runs Away, Ethan is only in grade one and already has been kicked out of one school due to his tantrums and pattern of running away when in a panic. Now in a new school his mom remains glued to her phone, waiting for the call to tell her that they don’t know what to do with a child who has autism. Sara is about to learn if this new school is up to the challenge. ( Autism Belongs is the 3rd book. Manny's life has shrank to the confines of their house. His parents are desperate not to rock his world because the aggression has gotten to much worse. Where will this lead? Is there a chance that Manny could actually belong out in the world? You bet! Get a free sample at Book four, Autism Talks and Talks, is about a 12 year old girl who has Asperger's. She's bright, inquisitive, highly verbal, but lacks social skills. Try a free sample at Book five, Autism Grows Up features Suzie, a bright, twenty-one year old whose life collapsed after she finished high school. Now, she lives in her mother's basement, spending nights on her computer, afraid to broach the world outside their door. Autism Grows Up is found at Prefer a boxed set? Get the first 3 books bundled together at Co-author of bestseller, The Official Autism 101 Manual (

B.A. in Psychology, B.Ed. in Special Education, M.A. in Educational Leadership PhD. in Psychology Management, specializing in autism.

Awards and Honors
B.R.A.G. Medallion for the novel Autism Goes to School - Book 1 in the School Daze Series. ( Like Autism Goes to School, the third book in the series, Autism Belongs, also ranked #1 on Amazon ( Manny is not like other children. He doesn’t talk. He doesn’t leave the house. His parents desperately try to arrange their world so that Manny does not get upset. Because, when he does, well, the aggression was getting worse. At ten, Manny was becoming difficult to handle.

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