Psychological Support and Learning Difficulties – الدعم النفسي وذوو الصعوبات التعلمية

Is there a proven relationship between learning difficulties and psychological support?
Usually, when parents discover that their child is not able to learn because of one or more difficulties, they tend to focus on how to help him or her academically and they forget the negative effects of these difficulties on the psychological well-being of the child. According to some studies, there are many psychological, emotional and behavioral difficulties that a child with learning difficulties might face, including:

– Low self-esteem
– Increase in the level of anxiety
– Increased feeling of loneliness
– Sadness or tension
– Behavioral problems
– Physical symptoms such as headaches or stomach pain
– Loss of desire to work.

 

What are the most important indicators that someone needs psychological support?
Some indicators of psychological suffering (e.g. crying and anxiety) are easy to observe and understand. While others (like getting into trouble) may be misinterpreted. Resorting to bullying is the choice of some children who struggle with learning difficulties to cover problems at the academic level.

 

Why could children with learning difficulties need psychological support, and how should we deal with them?
Below are three most common reasons that make a child who has learning difficulties suffer at the psychological level, along with some tips:

1 – They think they are less intelligent than others.
Children with learning difficulties think they are less intelligent than others because they are slower at school. So it is important to:

– Explain to them what are learning difficulties while choosing appropriate words. A psychologist could be of help.
– Resort to specialists to determine the difficulty or difficulties that prevent them from learning.
– Be careful not to underestimate the ability of the child to feel or understand your feelings even if you do not express them. As such, if you think learning difficulties is not a good thing, your children will probably have the same opinion and feeling.

2- The hereditary factor.
In some cases, learning difficulties are related to genetic factors. This is why parents might feel responsible for their child’s problem and they are overwhelmed with guilt.
In such cases, parents should pay attention to their feelings and, if necessary, turn to a psychologist to help them be more positive.
This positivity reflects on the child; her or his thought and feelings will be more positive.

3- Hard work and repeated failure.

Often, and because of their learning difficulties, children find that they need to work harder than their peers, which may mean spending more time solving homework, tutoring and working with specialists. All this effort can lead to frustration of the child, and because of repeated failures, they may develop a negative image of themselves.

This why teachers, therapists, and parents should set modest, realistic and achievable goals and then work with the child to realize them. Success in achieving such goals is a motivation to continue efforts.

 

What is the role of parents when it comes to psychosocial support?
Parents should try to discover whether their child who has learning difficulties has a talent. This may be one of the most important things that can be done to help a child. Parents’ role is indeed to find ways for their child to feel satisfied, that he or she masters something and she or he is able to achieve.

It is also important that parents find the appropriate learning environment for their child, and to coordinate with the school to know if their child’s needs are met.

 

Is it necessary for a child with learning difficulties to attend a specialized school?
Changing school change could be necessary at times. The need could also be to choose a specialized school, or a regular school that has a learning difficulties section. Such a decision could be essential because:

– These schools are able to provide support as part of an individualized program, rather than resorting to a separate after school activity.
– These schools may also be better prepared to provide support at the level of social, emotional and behavioral needs for each learner according to her or his needs.

 

What is the role of the school when it comes to psychological support?
Children with learning difficulties feel sometimes upset for being different from their peers, and they feel embarrassed when they have to leave the classroom for extra help, or when they do not know how to answer a question.

A study by Kavale and Forness showed that 75 percent of children with learning difficulties also have social difficulties such as making and keeping friends. Research has also shown that these children feel that their peers do not accept them, and they often feel rejected.

In addition, children with learning difficulties feel distressed when they hear teachers’ negative opinions. This social rejection can lead to loss of self-confidence and negatively affect their self-esteem, and could lead to making them feel lonely.

These repeated experiences may negatively affect a child’s self-confidence and make going to school a terrible experience. This is why teachers must be more understanding of their students’ feelings, and they must encourage learners, as this will improve their mood and confidence in themselves. Teachers must stop negative attention such as reprimanding the child or even ridiculing him or her for giving the wrong answer.

 

The psychologist at the school must play a key role; she/he may draw teacher’s attention to:

– The need to avoid asking the student with difficulty in reading from doing so aloud, and may resort to asking the student to read in a setting whereby only the teacher can hear him or her.
– Or he can advise the teacher to agree with the student who has a difficulty to use a sign when he or she needs help or feels frustrated.

 

Why do individuals with learning difficulties need psychological support?
If a child with learning difficulties does not get psychological support, he or she might end up being stuck in an endless cycle of learning difficulties and feeling frustrated and depressed.

 

Useful references:

Ehmke, R. (n.d.). Supporting the emotional needs of kids with learning disabilities. Retrieved from: https://childmind.org/article/supporting-the-emotional-needs-of-kids-with-disabilities/

Kavale, K. A. & Forness, S. R. (1996). Social skills deficits and learning disabilities: Ameta-analysis. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 29, 226 – 237.