Dr. Marcia Eckerd Explains What Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) Is
I’m excited to be bringing a new topic to the podcast today — nonverbal learning disorder, also known as NLD or NVLD. And I’ve brought on a wonderful expert to talk about it with us – Dr. Marcia Eckerd. I learned so much from this conversation, including what NVLD actually is, examples of how it might show up in kids, and why it’s important to recognize if your child has NLD instead of thinking their behavior is the result of something else like ADHD or social anxiety. Marcia also shared how she works with families making sure the child’s self-esteem is taken into account and not making them feel they are less than others because they process things differently. Such a rich conversation in which Marcia shares her wisdom and insights from decades of getting to understand our complex, wonderful kids. I hope you enjoy our conversation!
About Dr. Marcia Eckerd
Marcia Eckerd, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist with over 30 years’ experience. As a therapist and provider of neuropsychological evaluations, she identified and worked with many children with Non-Verbal Learning Disability. She serves on the CT Autism Spectrum Disorder Advisory Council and the professional advisory boards of SmartKidsWithLD and NeuroClastic.com, a nonprofit providing creative educational resources on autism. She has a regular blog on Psychology Today, “Everyday Neurodiversity” as well as writing professional articles on autism and articles for multiple websites and magazines on NVLD, autism, evaluations and executive functions, such as SmartKidsWithLD.org, Autism Parenting Magazine and Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism. She’s spoken extensively on NVLD and autism in national conferences for educators, clinical professionals and parents.A former Director of Clinical Programs at the New Learning Therapy Center, she also helped establish the Norwalk Hospital-Yale collaboration Pediatric Development and Therapy Center. She continues to be on the Associate Medical Staff at Norwalk Hospital.
Things you’ll learn from this episode
- How Marcia describes her work of being a “translator” between individuals with NVLD and the world around them
- What nonverbal learning disorder is and how it might show up in kids
- Why it’s so important to distinguish NVLD from things like autism, ADHD, or social anxiety
- Why prioritizing our kids’ self-esteem is so critical
- Why kids with NVLD might struggle when they get to middle school as their social and school life start to change
- The different executive functions that can be worked on alongside NVLD depending on what your child needs help with
- How to support your child with NVLD and the kind of support parents can look for
Resources mentioned for What is Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NVLD)
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Debbie Reber 00:00
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Marcia Eckerd 00:22
Because when you hear nonverbal learning disability, you make the assumption that the child is nonverbal, and has a learning disability. And in fact, the child is very verbal, and doesn’t have necessarily a learning disability. So it’s not an it’s not a clinical diagnosis. It’s a pattern of strengths and weaknesses on neuropsych testing.
Debbie Reber 00:49
Welcome to Tilt Parenting a podcast featuring interviews and conversations aimed at inspiring, informing and supporting parents raising differently wired kids. I’m your host, Debbie Reber and I’m excited to be bringing a new topic to the podcast today nonverbal learning disorder, also known as NLD or NVLD, and I brought on a wonderful expert to talk about it with us, Dr. Marcia Eckerd, I learned so much from this conversation, including what NVLD actually is, how it might show up in kids. It’s not necessarily what you might think of when you hear that term nonverbal learning disorder. And Marsha also talks about why it’s important to recognize if your child has NLD instead of presuming their behavior is the result of some other neurological difference like ADHD or social anxiety. Marsha also shared how she works with families and really focuses on the child’s self esteem and not making them feel that they are less than others because they process things differently. So because this is a condition that is not well understood, oftentimes these kids’ behavior, and the way that they’re showing up to their schoolwork to their social relationships to their lives can be perplexing and also not understood. So Marsha is going to break that all down for us. And a little bit more about Marsha before we get started. Marcia Eckerd PhD is a licensed psychologist with over 30 years experience as a therapist and provider of neuropsychological evaluations, identifying and working with many children with NVLD. Marcia also writes the everyday neurodiversity blog on Psychology Today, as well as articles for multiple websites and magazines on NVLD, autism, evaluations, and executive functions. She has spoken extensively on NVLD and autism and national conferences for educators, clinical professionals, and appearance. And one thing I wanted to mention, Marcia wrote an article that went viral a few years ago on Psychology Today, about how many autistic children are being traumatized in their school environments. And so I’m going to include a link to that in the show notes, definitely check that out. So this is just such a rich conversation in which Marcia shares her wisdom and insights from decades of working to understand our complex, wonderful kids. I hope you enjoy this episode. Hello, Marcia, welcome to the podcast.
Marcia Eckerd 03:20
Oh, thank you so much for having me. I’m happy to be here.
Debbie Reber 03:23
I am happy that I learned of your work actually, through someone in the Tilt community who said you have to have this woman on the show specifically to talk about nonverbal learning disorder, which is what we’re going to get into today. But before we get into that, I would love to just know a little bit more about you. If you could give us your own introduction to what you do in the world and the lens through which you approach that work.
Marcia Eckerd 03:48
That’s a good question. I started out over 30 years ago, being trained, what was traditionally then which was analytic kind of approach. But I then started doing neuropsych testing, and doing neuropsych testing. First of all, I became aware that different people process differently. And so that put a different slant on the way I was thinking about people. And I found a subset of kids who kind of all had similar challenges. They had social challenges. They had problems sort of spatially in terms of again, what I was getting on neuropsych testing. They had certain patterns in terms of what their parents complained about. And they’d say, Well, you really get my kid, would you work with my kids? So I started working with this population and realizing that you know, the reading about nonverbal learning disabilities, and over time, more and more of my, my kids, and then yeah, adults were typical of this. And I over time also got into working with people on the autistic spec. term, because, as I’ll explain now or later, NLD is the typical nearside profile for many people who are on the spectrum, people who used to be called Asperger’s. So my practice really got into working with people. And what I learned more and more was that when you process differently, you do different things, it doesn’t make you any lesser or less capable or less worthy. It just means you process differently. But people often are annoyed, or they’re there, they have a negative reaction if you’re not doing what they expect you to be doing. So more and more, I became an advocate for neurodiverse ways of processing, and trying to kind of translate, so to speak between neurotypical or typical ways of processing and expectations, and how these kids were or young adults or adults were experiencing things, and how to understand that. And so I kind of became a translator, so to speak. And over time, I’ve more and more focused on autism, but also NLD, in really trying to bring to life the experiences of kids so that teachers and parents and other professionals can really understand them, because I find there is so much misunderstanding. Yeah,
Debbie Reber 06:31
I’m just curious, how do you do that work of being that translator of bringing to light? What does that actually look like in the day to day?
Marcia Eckerd 06:39
Well, for example, let’s say I’m trying to explain to you, come to me, you’re pissed off at your child, you say he’s not thoughtful, or she’s not thoughtful, okay? And I say, well, what’s the problem carrying this great big ragged bag of groceries? And I said, this is really heavy, never once offered to help, okay? And I say, well, one of the things you need to understand about your child is your child doesn’t make inferences. So when you say this bag is heavy, as far as she’s concerned, you’re saying the bag is heavy. You’re not asking for help. If you want your child to help you kind of say, hey, the bag is heavy, would you mind helping me carry it? And this kind of thing happens all the time, where there’s expectations that and else people will say, Well, he should know, at what I say is should is the most useless word in the English language? Because if you don’t know you don’t know.
Debbie Reber 07:37
It’s a great answer. We’ve pretty much banned the word should hear at Tilt parenting, I agree with you completely use this word. And I love the way you explain that. So now I’d love to hone in on NLD. Can you just lay it out for us? What is it? It’s something that I think many of us have heard of, we’ve seen the NVLD written or NLD written but we don’t quite understand what it means practically. So can you explain it to us?
Marcia Eckerd 08:03
Well, I’m really glad you asked that. Because what people are going to find is that there are many professionals who don’t know about NLP, they may never even heard of it. And it’s the worst named thing in the world. Because when you hear a nonverbal learning disability, you make the assumption that the child is nonverbal, and has a learning disability. And in fact, the child is very verbal, and doesn’t necessarily have a learning disability. So it’s not and it’s not a clinical diagnosis. It’s a pattern of strengths and weaknesses on neuroscience testing. So you have a constellation of strengths and weaknesses, strengths in verbal processing and verbal expression and vocabulary and ability to remember facts, things like weaknesses in the visual spatial domain, weaknesses in fine motor, gross motor executive functions. It’s a pattern of strengths that then translates into patterns of behavior, because these kids are processing without everything coming in and all channels. So the cues that come in nonverbally, are they’re probably missing them, and they’re desperately trying to integrate everything else. So they work 10 times as hard. But it’s not a clinical diagnosis. So if you say to many clinicians, my child has a nonverbal learning disability, or how do I find a therapist who understands this, you might strike out. And it’s not a learning disability per se, some kids who are NLD, or NVLD do have learning disabilities. But this pattern itself is not a learning disability. So you’re going to run into schools who say, Well, this isn’t a learning disability. And he doesn’t qualify for services if you say he’s NLD, so it’s It’s a pattern. And that’s a really hard thing for people to understand.
Debbie Reber 10:06
Yeah. And so it does not have a clinical home in the DSM, as you said. So just kind of explained to me how it fits in then is it something that is a profile within people who may be autistic, or who may have ADHD or may have other things going on? Kind of a pattern outside of any other sort of neuro divergence? I guess, like I want to understand, is it complimentary to things? Is it a subset of things like how does it fit in?
Marcia Eckerd 10:35
Well, I’m sure there are very few people listening to this who don’t have complex kids. Yeah, true. podcasts like this would pull for people who have kids who are complicated, yes, you can just have NLD. But there’s a very high frequency of kids being like Chinese menus, they have more than one thing. So you have NLD, and you have any ADHD, or you have NLD, and you’re on the spectrum, or you have NLD, and you’re anxious, of course, you’re anxious, you’re trying to navigate a world that’s not designed for you. And you can have NLD, and often these kids are bright. And so you can have a 2e, a child who’s twice exceptional, who’s gifted and has NLD, so that the child is extremely knowledgeable in some area, but still socially, incredibly awkward or having difficulty tying issues or having difficulty with exterior and executive functions or even reading comprehension. So if we’re just as kids who presented surprises.
Debbie Reber 11:42
Maybe you could share with us a little bit more, you’ve given some examples about some of the patterns of strengths and weaknesses, can you give us a couple of specific profiles of a child, that might be an indicator that this kid has NLD.
Marcia Eckerd 11:57
Okay, I have one boy I’m seeing right now. And he misses social cues, he doesn’t quite understand how to fit in, he very much wants to make friends. But he doesn’t really quite know how, and he’s had this problem all along, he tends to get bullied, his parents have moved him through different schools, trying to find one where he is accepted by the other kids, he can be quite inflexible, and get something in his head doesn’t necessarily understand the perspective of the other kids. So he will push his point to the point where he is perceived as bossy. He has visual spatial and gross motor problems, so that when you put him out on the soccer field, because everybody in this particular school has to play a sport, he’s kind of at a loss, because he, you have to know visually spatially, where’s the ball going, and where’s your teammate going to be in? When’s it going to get to your foot and you have to run and kick at the same time. And all of those are motor skills that somebody might have a lot of trouble with. And then you also have the social issue of the guys on your team who want to win, and who are really kind of mad at you because you didn’t kick the ball to them. He’s quite rule bound, and he gets upset. If another boys, they’re very into Pokeyman. If the other boy is not playing by the rules, that really upsets him, he wants things to be by the rules. And he has he’s and the teachers I’ve had to work with, because kids like this tend to have problems. They either get the big picture, they, you know, they overall big idea, I’m supposed to do this, or they get all the details. But he doesn’t know how to break it down. So they have to kind of what they call an education chunk, things they have to give them one step at a time logical steps so that they can know how to go about doing what they’re asking. So that’s kind of a lot about him. And unfortunately, as much as he wants to have friends. He tends to irritate other kids, because he can be quite possessive. Sometimes. He wants someone to be his best friend, and the other child might not want that might be giving him clues or cues about that. And he’s not picking up on him.
Debbie Reber 14:26
Yeah, that’s such an interesting profile. And as you’re sharing that, what I think of is how these are kids who might be identified as a result of their ADHD or that’s a result of their social anxiety. And so can you talk about why it matters to understand that this is NLD happening again, it’s not in the DSM but being able to really work with someone who can recognize this is what’s going on. Why is that so important?
Marcia Eckerd 14:56
That’s something that I try to do all the time because As you’re taking a child, and you’re trying to kind, it’s sort of like an onion, you’re trying to peel apart. What exactly is going on here? And this is going to be an oversimplification. So I apologize to your listeners who already would think this. But if I’m trying to tease apart NLD, or spectrum disorder spectrum traits versus social anxiety, versus ADHD, the ADHD kid probably knows what to do. He, but he’s impulsive. And he’s rushing, or he’s interrupting, or he’s doing something. And so that’s where he runs into trouble, because he’s being impulsive, or he’s having difficulty sustaining his attention. And so one kid is talking about, you know, a star, meaning a celebrity, and this kid is like, stars. Oh, yeah, that reminds me, I saw something on a guy in outer space. And, you know, that really was interesting. And I’d like to go to outer space. And I think they’re just having companies sending …. And they’re off. And that’s ADHD. Then you have a kid who is socially anxious and he, people are temperamentally introverted. And people might have a lot of anxiety. Maybe they were somewhere where there was a lot of bullying or somewhere where there was a lot of teasing. And so there is a child who has a lot of anxiety. But again, they understand what the rules are. They’re anxious about what’s going to happen. They’re anxious about, you know, how you’re going to react to me, are you going to be mean, are you going to accept me, but they do understand the rules. Whereas if you’re on the spectrum, or if you have NLD, you might not even get what the rules are. And so how do I initiate this? How do I have? How do I pick up the social cues for small talk? So if I love Pokemon, and I’m telling you about Pokemon, and you’re rolling your eyes, because you have heard more about Pokemon, then you want to know in two lifetimes, I don’t get it. And I keep going on. So that’s the difference.
Debbie Reber 17:14
Yeah, I’m sure there are people listening? Uh huh. Yep. That’s I know a lot about Pokemon or Star Wars or Minecraft, or whatever the case may be. So if these are kids who don’t really get it, then how do we support them? I’m curious to know how you work with families and help kids to learn how to pick up on those social cues, it seems like it would have to be very individualized and nuanced work.
Marcia Eckerd 17:40
Well, it is very individualized. And I think it’s really important to remember that these children are diverse. And you know, when you can, I want to go back to what you said for a second, you can also have NLD and ADHD. So you might not get it and be impulsive. Interrupt, let’s not, again, simplify them. But it’s important to remember these kids have self esteem. And so we don’t want to communicate that we’re just fundamentally disappointed in them. I think we need to remember that they are trying incredibly hard. And it’s like life is a series of curveballs. And if you’re in a group of people, they’re all coming at you from different directions simultaneously. And that’s one reason why these kids tend to be inflexible, because they’re, they’re just trying to navigate all this. But we don’t want to communicate to the child, you’re not as good as. So we are navigating giving them feedback, or trying to help them, at the same time as remembering they need to feel good about themselves. There are a bunch of things I do, one is to kind of have them think about the sort of deconstructing what’s going on, and different perspectives of people. So well, you want to play so and so doesn’t, what might her point of view be? They call these social stories. And I’m not always thrilled when they talk about it as right way wrong way. Because then we’re telling this kid, he’s wrong. But I think what we want to talk about more is outcomes. If you do it this way, what’s the outcome? If you do it that way? What’s the outcome? We’re always surrounded by social situations. And so parents can be great teachers. It doesn’t mean you might be standing in line at Stop and Shop and you’re looking two people ahead and you can see that, gosh, that guy looks really tired. Or that cashier she looks kind of mad. And I wonder if it’s that person or I wonder what is going on with their day to help them notice the cues. Also watching TV, you’d be surprised that it doesn’t matter whether it’s Spongebob or Harry Potter. You know, kids will understand that SpongeBob like Squidward Squidward doesn’t like anyone else, and why don’t people like Squidward? And they’ll get it or Harry Potter, you know, when, when Hermione first comes in? Why? Why don’t we like Hermione? Well, what is there about her mind? And he’s tone of voice. So we’re, we’re kind of sort of saying, you know why? Why don’t we like Malfoy. So we’re pointing out nonverbal things, we’re pointing out tone of voice, we’re pointing out social roles, we’re pointing out big picture thinking, and, but we have to understand that if someone literally doesn’t press his tone of voice, they still might miss it, we have to take that into account. Another thing is, a lot of times kids will either assume kids are being mean, if they’re talking, they must be talking about me. Or they might go the other direction and say everybody’s my friend. Or they might keep going back to the kids who are nice and then mean to them. Because the kid enjoys playing them, so to speak. And I encourage kids to think about social history. What do I know about this person? How has this person been with me? And so if a kid we know has gone hot and cold, they’re really nice to be your best friend, and all of a sudden, they dump you, and they don’t speak to you, then you have to know that’s what I need to expect. Or there’s someone I don’t know if he’s being mean, but what do I know? He’s, he’s my friend. He’s been there for me for years. So it’s probably okay. Or there’s probably some reason why he’s doing what he’s doing. And parents can model, I mean, we interact socially all the time, but we tend to do it in our heads. And so if you’re it, let’s say it’s Fourth of July, okay, and you’re going to the family picnic, and you can’t stand Aunt Francis okay. Because Aunt Francis is always critical. The first thing Aunt Francis will say is Oh, you gained some weight here. So, I mean, talk about it, you know, v v real? Oh, gosh, you know, how am I going to deal with Aunt Francis because, Aunt Francis does this? And well, you know, what are you going to do when you see Aunt Francis coming? Are you making a left turn and heading to somebody else? Or are you just going to nod and say, Ah ha, ha, ha and then walk away? I mean, how are you going to handle it? So we can model and help. I can help talk through how we do this? Those are just some ideas.
Debbie Reber 22:29
Yeah, as you were sharing that I was thinking, you know, middle school in high school, my hunch is, is a really challenging time for kids with NLD, because the social expectations are so high and tricky, especially middle school. I mean, those years can be so tough, what do you see in your work?
Marcia Eckerd 22:48
I don’t think anybody in their right mind would want to go back to middle school. Yeah, indeed, when I tend to say is that in middle school, the kids are the most different from each other, because they’re all hitting puberty, and they’re all at different stages, and they most want to be the same. So they’re the least tolerant of being different. And they can also and they’re also trying to sort of prove where they stand on the social ladder. So they can be very mean, and they can be very rejecting. And often kids with NLD aren’t identified until they’re 10 to 14, because they are bright. And the structure of elementary school kind of helps them be on top of things and play dates may be pre arranged. And the level of demand in classes isn’t such that they’re running into trouble that way. They’re perceived as very bright. And sometimes, you know, their difficulties are explained as Oh, he’s just so smart. So what’s when you hit 10 to 13? That the social world gets so complicated, and then you have rotating schedules in middle school and you have all these other things so that life is always changing all of a sudden, and that can just be overwhelming. Yeah, when I tell kids your job is to survive this and keep your head on straight.
Debbie Reber 24:06
Yes. We’ve had that conversation. High school, middle school, it’s about getting through. Yeah, cuz it’s not easy for differently wired, neurodivergent kids.
Debbie Reber 24:20
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Debbie Reber 25:25
So you’ve talked a lot about social cues, the social piece, and my hunch is that that is a really predominant aspect of NLD. But you also mentioned the visual spatial weaknesses, relative weaknesses, executive function, are these things that you support in tandem? Or are there unique ways to work on those that might be different for your mainstream executive function challenges?
Marcia Eckerd 25:49
Well, I think we have to remember that executive function challenges mean all kinds of things. And so for some kids is that they don’t have good verbal memory. And so they, that might be why they have trouble for an ADHD kid, it might be he’s always forgetting everything, or he’s disorganized, or he’s waiting until the last minute to do his homework. For these kids. It’s organizational in the sense that they notice all the details, but they don’t know how to put them together. So that’s why I was talking about step by step, clear, logical directions, so that they know what it is that they need to do. So we’re making sure that they know what it is and that they know what it is in the right order so that they can plan and they can have what they need. And they can follow it through. They may need to know what the product looks like. So these are kids who might benefit from having rubrics to see what is it that that you want. And these are the kids who miss the forest for the trees, they see every single tree, but they miss the big idea. They call it central coherence. And so these are the kids who when you say well, what’s the main idea? They’re kind of at a loss. And a lot of times, that’s an inferred expectation that they’re going to know that if they’re going to do a task, but they may not know that, that then you get you run into that when you have a situation like outlining, okay, I want you to outline Well, you have to know your main ideas if you’re going to write an outline of if you know every single detail, but it’s sort of the way I describe it. And this happens in writing. It’s like all the cars at the George Washington Bridge, if there’s just enough cars to go through everything smooth. But if there’s too many cars, there’s too many details all trying to get through the channel at once. That’s actually an executive function. And it has to be able to organize it. So there’s a line that they can, they’re thinking of the idea they’re spelling, the idea of they’re formulating a sentence, these kids are having trouble with transitioning, and so they’re having to transition they’re having to go back and forth between all the different executive functions it takes to do things. So those are the kinds of executive functions you’re talking about.
Debbie Reber 28:19
God just hearing about it sounds exhausting. I think about the expectations for kids in a school system, especially middle school, high school, just outlining a paper that sounds overwhelming to me knowing that a child is dealing with these kinds of challenges. So I’m wondering if this is going on with our kids knowing that there is no formal diagnosis? Is it hard to get schools to support a child? And how can parents navigate accommodations or other ways to help their kids be successful in school?
Marcia Eckerd 28:51
Well, there are ways I think that depends. What you have to do is you have to go about the specific things that are presenting as problems. So there is something in DSM five called a social communication disorder. So if the main issue is social, you can kind of go for that. If the problems have to do with writing, for example, the example I was just giving you where you’re having to switch between knowing what it is you want to say thinking of how to put it in a sentence structure dysgraphia happens with a lot of these kids, being able to go back and check to make sure you’re still on topic, then you might have a writing disability. If reading comprehension is a problem, because you’re not getting main themes, you might talk about a reading issue in terms of the kids being at grade level or at their level of intellectual potential. So executive functions you’d really be focusing on and try hopefully understanding that that’s what’s going on. That’s why you’ve got a really bright kid sitting in front of a blank piece of paper. So we have to go at this specifics rather than try to use the general nomenclature.
Debbie Reber 30:05
And that’s why it’s really important for a parent to really understand their kid’s profile, right to understand how their brain works. And I used to always say that I know more about my kid’s brain than I could ever have imagined. There’s a lot of details in what processing looks like and strengths and relative weaknesses and all of those things. So the more we can be aware of that, and have that understanding of how our child is experiencing the world, the better position will be to advocate for them. Yeah.
Marcia Eckerd 30:36
Oh, absolutely. And I, there’s one other sort of track of things I want to throw in, which is twofold. One is, we have to remember, like you said before, how hard this child is working, just to make it through this social and the transition, and all these other demands during the day. And these kids tend to handle unpredictability within flexibility. So the kids are working many times harder, so they can be fried. And parents will say, he comes in the door and emails down, or it comes in the door, and he explodes. And this goal might say, well, that’s he’s fine, it’s going, it’s not our problem, it must be something having to do with the home or having to do with the parenting. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with parenting, it’s that you have a totally fried child on your hands. So you might have to talk to the school about looking at the load of what’s being given or looking at the pace, because when your child gets home from school, or do you just need to be able to sort of calm down, have some space and, and not have more demand. Another thing is that these kids tend to have what I call railroad track thinking, which is if they’ve got something in their minds, and something gets in the way. Well, the normal thing to do is you sort of do a life hack you go around to but these kids don’t I mean, they just are straight on this is how it has to be and I have to be able to do this. So we need to be able to help them with that and not get mad not saying well just do this, you know, we need we need to understand where their inflexibility is coming from or where they’re getting upset is coming from and, and be Ross Greene is great in his book, The Explosive Child because he talks about how do you deal with inflexible kids?
Debbie Reber 32:28
Yes, we are big Ross Greene fans here. Love that. And yeah, I mean, I hear that from so many people in the tech community, that exact example that my child does, okay, at school, and then comes home and they fall apart. And it’s really hard for a lot of these parents because the schools don’t see it didn’t really understand what’s going on. I imagine a lot of people listening to this are thinking this resonates on so many levels and are wondering how do I support my child? Are there specific therapists who work with kids who have NLD? Are there specific things that they should be looking out for?
Marcia Eckerd 33:06
Well, it depends on what domains you’re looking for support in, if you’re looking for support for the social issues, or for anxiety, or for certain aspects of their processing, the best thing to look for is someone who’s familiar with kids on the spectrum, because so many of these issues are similar and overlap with the issues of kids on the spectrum, that somebody who’s going to know with what, how to how to help a kid in those sorts of situations with the inflexibility. For example, if we’re talking about the writing, then we want to make sure that we really want the school to look at what is going into the difficulty the child is having, and certainly not misinterpreted as an attitude problem, because one of the top problems when you have bright kids is that if they’re not doing everything at the level of their verbal skills, that scene is an attitude problem. So we have to get away from that and say, No, if we break it down, here’s what’s going on. Here’s it and so your right parents have to do a lot of advocating. Another aspect of working with the kids that can be really helpful is working with them on self calming skills. I’m sure you’ve had a lot on meditation on your program, but it is scientifically proven to increase stress resilience, and breathing techniques. I’ll give a shout out to a wonderful site called Autism Level Up if you haven’t heard of that one before, but it’s an OT and a psychologist and their sensory tools to be aware of a child’s sensory profile. And so I have one kid who gets all upset and he’s using sensory tools to help calm down. And that so this actually lets you have free downloads to do a sensory profile of your child, and to look at, because I’ve had kids who self calm by doing wall push ups. So it kind of depends on what it is we’re trying to work on as to what we’re looking for in terms of help. Sometimes parents do supplement with tutors who explain things in the way the child can understand. Hopefully the school can do that. But again, PACE is a huge thing, if we’re having to slow it down or teach it differently. And a child for example, isn’t view visual spatial problems, math is very visual spatial, you have to line things up all that kind of stuff, if the child’s having to do this more slowly, is the pace of work, something they can keep up with. As he’s having to work with a tutor or with somebody, we might need to sort of look at the expectations he might not, we might want one him doing 10 problems, we might want them doing five,
Debbie Reber 35:56
Wow. My notes are like scribbled over so many things have come up with this has just been such a fascinating conversation for listeners who want to dive deeper and who actually want to engage with you. And you write on many topics, and are very visible in supporting parents who are navigating this journey with our complex kids. So how can people connect with you?
Marcia Eckerd 36:17
Well, I have a website, which is my name, www.marciaeckerd.com. And there’s a contact me. And that’s actually my email, that’s probably the easiest, because I get so much coming in at me, my bandwidth is sometimes limited. So sometimes I get to the phone once every three days. But I am more than happy to talk to people. I do a lot of consults.
Debbie Reber 36:48
Great! Listeners, I will have links in the show notes page. So you can easily check out Marcia’s site. And also I’ll share some of the articles that Marcia has has written, which I think you’ll find very interesting, before we say goodbye, anything that we either didn’t touch on that you want to be sure parents know or if there was one thing that you want to make sure that they take away from that conversation. What would it be?
Marcia Eckerd 37:12
Well, I guess it’s going back to the should, okay. I once was leaving a group at a school and I had actually tested this man’s boy and his kid was the sweetest boy in the world. And but his father had had his heart set on a baseball player. And this kid was never going to be a baseball player. And he said, What if there’s nothing special about your child, and it broke my heart. Because these kids are sweet and kind and loyal. And they’re the most loving friends you’re going to get. They are highly motivated, they have high standards, they’re going to be doing their best to please you and to please everybody else. They’re working really hard at it. And so we just want to make sure that at the school and everywhere, that they’re appreciated for who they are, and not simply defined in terms of what they’re not.
Debbie Reber 38:17
That’s a great note to emphasis on and completely in alignment with how we hear all the listeners. This is what we believe too, that our kids are so incredible and unique and deserve to be respected for the way that they are living their lives. So thank you so much. Thank you for everything you shared today and for the work that you do to support families like ours. I really appreciate it.
Marcia Eckerd 38:41
Well thank you for having me.
Debbie Reber 38:45
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