A cross-sectional study published in the July 25 Pediatrics studied learning disabilities, emotional problems or behavioral problems in school-age children and these disorders affect on students’ well-being. The U. S. researchers found that learning disabilities, emotional and behavioral disorders can cause difficult social and academic situations at school. Researchers studied more than 1,450 students in grades four through six, following their progress. The population was derived from 34 rural schools in three large school districts in Maryland and West Virginia. One-third of these students struggled with learning disabilities or other forms of “special needs,” including learning disabilities, emotional or behavioral disorders, asthma, chronic pain and ADHD, among other disorders, and related needs.
In addition to struggling academically, the third of students in the study who were identified as having special needs were identified as being targets for bullying and strategic social isolation. These students were more likely to be disruptive in class, perhaps as a result of their academic struggles or, just as easily, of their frustration with being treated as an outsider.
Study co-author Dr. Christopher B. Forrest, a professor if pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said, “Health affects school performance. Special health care needs have manifold effects on school outcomes that increase the likelihood that these kids are not going to successfully transition to adulthood.”
Forrest and colleagues used surveyed students and their parents, gathering data on long-term health problems, which were qualified as being those health problems that require health services or cause functional problems. Special health care needs were defined as those conditions lasting longer than 12 months and requiring intervention, which might take form of prescription medication, therapy or other educational services. Students’ school records were reviewed to gather data on attendance, grades and standardized test scores.
The study’s findings indicate that one of every three children had a “high” special need. Boys were twice as likely as girls to have a special health care need. In some cases, Forrest and his team found that the problems generated by a special health need crested at a certain age. Nonetheless, one in three children with a high special need is alarming. Children with special needs are affected by their condition in the classroom and in other arenas.
Forrest explained his position: “[They] have significant differences in their engagement in school and their school relationships, as well as academic achievement. It sets up a trajectory for these kids that’s highly distressing.”
The study, however, was not national; it studied only populations in West Virginia and Maryland. The cities from which study populations were drawn had and high proportion of low-income families, potentially contributing to and skewing the study’s results. Higher-income schools may have more structures to accommodate and facilitate the development of students with high special needs.
The executive director of the National Center for Learning Disabilities in New York City stated, “[The study] certainly clarifies that learning disabilities, once again, are shown to have a demonstrable effect on children’s achievement in school. We know that students with learning disabilities . . . have very distinct social and emotional challenges that can lead them into difficult situations. We also know many of these things intensify as children grow older.”
Learning disabilities can be very damaging to students’ academic and social development, threatening their potential to become viable adults. Brainjogging treats and manages learning disabilities, enabling families to thrive even as one member struggles with a potentially inhibiting disability. Brainjogging offers cognitive therapy and tutoring for students and adults with learning disabilities, and specializes in autism spectrum disorders, dyslexia, ADHD and language and auditory processing disorders.