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Social Skills and Learning Disabilities

Young girl standing apart from her peersThe consequences of learning disabilities are rarely confined to school or work. Many areas of life are affected, including the role of the person with learning disabilities in their family, relationships with friends, non-academic functioning such as sports or dancing, self-esteem and self-confidence to handle daily situations.

Individuals who have learning disabilities may be less observant in their social environment, may misinterpret the social behavior of others at times, and may not learn as easily from experiences or social “cues” as their friends. Some children may exhibit an immaturity and social ineptness due to their learning disability. While seeking acceptance, their eagerness may cause them to try too hard in inappropriate ways.

Common behavioral characteristics of individuals with learning disabilities:

  • Inability to interpret environment and social cues
  • Poor judgment; little thought about logical consequences
  • Poor impulse control
  • Need for immediate gratification
  • Inability to set realistic priorities and goals
  • Inappropriate conclusions due to deficient reasoning ability
  • Illogical reasons for actions
  • Inability to develop meaningful relationships with others
  • Immature and “bossy” behavior
  • Low frustration tolerance resulting in disruptive behavior

Direct instruction in social skills training is highly recommended to help individuals with learning disabilities cope with their innate lack of social perception. Professional help from a variety of disciplines on an ongoing basis may be necessary.