Childing with learning disabilities like ADHD and dyslexia often experience feelings of failure, a lack of acceptance among their classmates, and high levels of bullying, which often leads to an increased risk of misbehavior, emotional trauma, and peer rejection.
Negative emotions make normal academic struggles, even more challenging.
Studies show that dyslexia—which is the most common and most studied learning disability—increases the risk of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and peer rejection. It’s unclear whether social-emotional difficulties are caused by the same deficits that affect information processing or if these difficulties arise because of the stress of repeated failure.
Feelings of Failure
So, let’s start with feelings of failure. Academic problems a child with a learning disability may experience can be a constant source of frustration, especially in the areas of reading, math, reasoning, memory and/or self-control.
Children with a learning disability are very intelligent but repeated academic failure weakens their self-confidence and esteem. Children with learning disabilities often lose motivation to thrive in school when failure becomes more prominent. They are unable to grasp things as quickly as their classmates who are not disabled.
Some children accept failure in school, so they stop trying anything new. They begin to assume that no matter how hard they try, failure will be the outcome.
Research found that individuals with learning disabilities develop a negative self-perception of themselves unlike their peers who do not have a learning disability (LaBarbera, 2008). There is literature linking depressive tendencies, negative self-perceptions, low self-esteem, or emotional and behavioral disorders, anxiety and suicidal behavior of those who have a learning disability.
Failure and poor performance lead one to self-doubt their intelligence, which discourages and causes one to fear further failure and poor academic outcomes in the future.
Lack of Acceptance and Friends
Children with learning difficulties, often experience being ridiculed, left out, or labeled as dumb by other students. Many children with a learning disability struggle with social acceptance among their peers and are bullied by their classmates (Westwood, 2004).
The reoccurring rejection adolescences with learning disabilities receive from their peers leaves them feeling isolated and embarrassed about their educational failures.
TIP: Children with a learning disability experience limitations in an academic environment and have been known to show a “learned helplessness” or a lack of perseverance when failure persists.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
- Positive non-verbal communication like smiling, a gentle touch, or soft voice demonstrates acceptance and can help boost self-esteem. Avoid negative communication such as eye rolling, frowning, shouting, or angry facial expressions. These actions can make a child feel worthless, unloved, and fragile.
- Encourage your child to have a positive outlook despite their learning difficulties. Help them find a skill in which they can excel. Having family support helps your child accept their learning difficulties, so they can reject the opinions of others that make them feel less worthy.
- Social acceptance has a profound impact on how an individual sees themself in the world. That’s why it is critical that you help your child connect with a peer group who has similar interests.
- Help your student accept failure. Start by pointing out small failures. They didn’t win the board game and that’s okay because they still had fun. When they fail at something bigger, emphasize the importance over success and that we grow through effort.
- Be vigilant in watching for signs of ongoing depression or suicidal tendencies. If you are concerned, call or text the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. They are available to help you 24 hours a day.
LEARNING DISABILITIES AND BULLYING
Sadly, students with disabilities are excessively subjected to, or involved with, bullying. One current study evaluated the victimization and perpetration rates of 6,531 students in Grades 3 through 12, including 16% with disabilities, over the course of 3 years.
Results revealed that students with disabilities experienced greater rates of victimization and engaged in higher levels of perpetration than their peers without disabilities over time.
This could be due, in part, to ongoing academic failures and challenges that diminish feelings of self-worth and result in submissive and passive behaviors.
This often results in children becoming vulnerable to peer aggression since they begin to internalize their problems. They are often victims of being bullying or become bullies to relieve themselves of this internal turmoil.
Students with learning disabilities who are in a self-contained classroom (inclusion) provide a greater chance of socialization opportunities, which promotes friendship, reduces stigmatization, and promotes self-determination. Students with a learning disability are integrated with regular education students are more likely to be bullied, teased, and ridiculed.
At Rockwood Prep we offer My Turn® Adaptive Classes, Behavioral Support Therapy, and a Delayed Readers Program. Learn more by reading through our many educational articles and by visiting our website.