Mental Health and Learning Disabilities: Why a Higher Risk?

Young girl hiding behind tree isolated from classmates or friendsThere are certain aspects of learning disabilities which increase the risk for an individual to experience mental health issues. Failure to identify a learning disability at an early age and to consequently delay the provision of intensive, individualized instruction results in school failure. A child who was well-adjusted as a five- or six-year-old can acquire overlays of emotional disturbance after years of school failure. Anxiety and depression would be likely experiences for such a child from the age of nine or ten.

Certain specific learning disabilities are characterized by perceptual deficits, including misinterpretation of facial expression, body language, or verbal cues that lead to awkward social interactions. These, along with impulsivity associated with ADHD, contribute to generally poor social skills, which in turn lead to alienation or social conflict.

Individuals of all ages with learning disabilities and ADHD are subject to ridicule from peers and are often the objects of bullying behaviors. Low self-esteem is a frequent by-product of learning disabilities.

School failure leads to disassociation from school settings, and the adolescent and teen with learning disabilities who has not received proper academic supports and services runs a higher risk than average for becoming involved with tobacco, alcohol and drugs. School drop-out is linked strongly to functional illiteracy; teens who drop out are at high risk of becoming involved in illegal activities and eventual incarceration, and for becoming teen mothers and fathers. Teen addictions, aggressive and other anti-social behaviors, and risky pregnancies are therefore linked to learning disabilities and ADHD.

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  1. That’s all fine information but what do we do as parents who have a child in High school who is L.D. has an 87 I.Q. has been diagnosed with multiple mental health issues ( is on medication) and is being bullied by having disparaging remarks made while changing classes. She is so tired of fighting this uphill battle alone. The school can not do anything to the students making the remarks because she does not know their names. She has been having panic attacks recently has started hearing voices (again), and refusing to go to school. Today May 3, 2016 I went to un-enroll her from school and the school student administrator sat my daughter and I down to talk. The outcome was to get her an Aide starting tomorrow so she will be less likely to be bullied in the halls. ( all her classes are L.D. so small class size with only L.D. kids). Daughter still doesn’t want to go to that school, and we want to try a specialized school but the head of Special Ed for the district said and I quote ” L…. hasn’t been a problem and is getting good grades, and hasn’t filed any complaints , so the school is meeting her needs “. What to do????????????????

    • Please get her out of that school. I myself (a person with Learning Disabilities) was in a similar situation and those school years are still my worse memories. I began to stop trusting people including family. I did not want to burden my mom so I kept the bullying to myself. I felt like I was all alone. In my case, I am a girl, it was boys with learning disabilities bullying me.

  2. It’s true that learning disabilities may lead to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and loss of self-esteem, etc. The earlier you diagnose it, the better it’s for your kid. If you see your kid struggling with his studies this year, determine the factors that might be causing these difficulties. It can be as trivial as switching schools or as common as adjusting to a new curriculum or the way instructors teach in the class. To know more, read the following post by Carey A. Heller:

  3. latasha hook says:

    My son has mental illness and aspergers disorder.He graduated from high school and now attends Brewster technical center,took up culinary got a certificate now he is doing custodial training.My son has been to the crisis center numerous times,very heart breaking for me to see.He had one job in his life time at Mcdonalds,didnt workout he was to slow.He wants to work so bad.My son also loves to go to church and i thank God he dosent depend on alcohol or drugs.Do you have any suggestions for me? Im his mother.

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