Psychological aspects of learning disabilities

Learning disabilities are a heterogeneous diagnostic category. As a specific disorder learning disabilities include reading disorders, disorders of written expression and mathematics disorders. As a general concept, learning disabilities may be categorised into four symptom complexes, which are not mutually exclusive: 1. dyslexia, 2. motor-perceptual; 3. language delay; 4. hyperactivity. In clinical settings these neurodevelopmental disorders are diagnosed in school-aged children. The most common referral reasons are significant difficulties in school achievement or difficulties in child adjustment and functioning that are manifested through behavioural and emotional difficulties caused by learning disabilities. Since academic achievement is an important aspect of self-esteem in childhood, school failure may result in many short-term and long-term consequences for the child’s functioning in narrow and broader social contexts, development of maladaptive behaviour and also cause the development of psychopathology. The most common short-term consequences include low academic and general self-esteem, lack of motivation for schooling and related obligations, behavioural disorders, a sense of overload in the child, peer relationship problems and a heightened level of family conflicts. The usual long-term outcomes are psychosomatic problems, affective disorders (depression, anxiety) and severe behavioural problems. Furthermore, longitudinal studies show the persistence of certain problems in adulthood.
In summary, impairments should be adequately assessed to evaluate the cognitive deficits and strengths, and a precise diagnosis should be established. Once problem areas have been identified, special teaching strategies can be devised in collaboration with the school to circumvent handicaps. Also, an important part of intervention includes counselling of parents and children.
Category: Abstracts
Volume: Vol. 52, No 3, july - september 2008
Authors: I. Prvčić, M. Rister Zec, I. Barišić
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