A learning disorder, or a specific learning disability, refers to a neurodevelopmental problem, as explained by the Boston Children’s Hospital “in which a child of normal intellectual potential (that is, a child does not have an Intellectual Disability) is encountering unusual difficulty with their academic functioning that cannot be explained by inadequate educational opportunity or emotional or sensory disabilities.” Learning disorders affect the brain’s ability to receive, process, store, and respond to information, which in turn impedes one’s ability to acquire basic academic skills. They can also interfere with higher level skills such as organization, time planning, abstract reasoning, long- or short-term memory, and attention. These skills are essential for success at school and for coping with life in general. Learning disorders are common among children and teens. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), of the 7 million students who receive special education services in American public schools, 33 percent have a specific learning disability.
There is a significant connection between learning disorders and teen mental health. The World Health Organization (WHO) explains mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” There are a variety of factors that can affect one’s mental health. Research shows, for example, that children and adolescents with learning disorders have high rates of mental health problems and behavioral difficulties.
Teens living with specific learning disabilities often experience feelings of inadequacy, frustration, and anxiety because, despite having average range intellectual skills, their academic efforts may not result in the same grades and recognition as their peers. Adolescents with learning disabilities often experience social skills deficits. Nearly seventy-five percent of teens with learning disorders are estimated to have difficulties with social relationships, which can cause them to withdraw from others and avoid new experiences. Teenagers with learning disorders are at greater risk for bullying and victimization, social isolation and rejection, and feelings of loneliness. Studies estimate that teenagers with learning disorders are two to three times more likely to experience mental health challenges. Anticipating the increased risk of mental health concerns and putting preventative strategies in place to support teens with learning difficulties is essential not only to their academic development but also to their overall well-being and quality of life.
For Information and Support
Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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