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Learning Disorders


Research articles:

Bender, W. N., Rosenkrans, C. B., & Crane, M. (1999). Stress, depression, and suicide among students with learning disabilities: Assessing the risk. Learning Disability Quarterly, 22(2), 143-156. doi:10.2307/1511272

In view of the increasing rates of youth suicide, this article reviews the research on stress, depression, and suicide among adolescents with learning disabilities from the risk resilience perspective. These adolescents may be at increased risk of suicide for 2 reasons: (1) they suffer from increased rates of depression, or (2) the other correlates of learning disabilities (e.g., impulsivity, deficits in social skills) may predispose them to higher rates of suicide. The data indicate that certain subgroups of adolescents with learning disabilities (i.e., those with nonverbal learning disabilities and/or those who are less academically adept) manifest higher rates of depression. Also, some evidence exists to support an increased risk of suicide among this population. Methodological problems in suicide research are discussed in light of the need for research on suicide and learning disabilities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)

Daniel, S. S., Walsh, A. K., Goldston, D. B., Arnold, E. M., Reboussin, B. A., & Wood, F. B. (2006). Suicidality, school dropout, and reading problems among adolescents. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 39(6), 507-514. doi:10.1177/00222194060390060301

The purpose of this study was to examine the risk of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts and school dropout among youth with poor reading in comparison to youth with typical reading (n = 188) recruited from public schools at the age of 15. In a prospective naturalistic study, youth and parents participated in repeated research assessments to obtain information about suicide ideation and attempts, psychiatric and sociodemographic variables, and school dropout. Youth with poor reading ability were more likely to experience suicidal ideation or attempts and more likely to drop out of school than youth with typical reading, even after controlling for sociodemographic and psychiatric variables. Suicidality and school dropout were strongly associated with each other. Prevention efforts should focus on better understanding the relationship between these outcomes, as well as on the developmental paths leading up to these behaviors among youth with reading difficulties. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)

Huntington, D., & Bender, W. (1993). Adolescents with learning disabilities at risk? Emotional well-being, depression, suicide. Journal Of Learning Disabilities, 26(3), 159-166. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

As recently as 5 years ago, very little information on the emotional well-being of adolescents with learning disabilities (LD) was available. However, a great deal of research has been conducted recently and some of the implications are unnerving. Research on self-concept, attributions, anxiety, depression, and suicide among adolescents with LD is examined for the purpose of detecting consistency of indicators concerning these emotional and developmental variables. The research indicates that the emotional development of many adolescents with LD is not notably positive, and these students appear to be at increased risk for severe depression and suicide. The discussion highlights methodological pitfalls and developmental issues. Practical implications are suggested.

McBride, H., & Siegel, L. (1997). Learning disabilities and adolescent suicide. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 30(6), 652-659. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

To investigate the hypothesis that learning disabilities (LD) play a part in adolescent suicide, all available suicide notes (n = 27) from 267 consecutive adolescent suicides were analyzed for spelling and handwriting errors. The suicide notes were dictated to adolescents with LD and adolescent non-LD controls. The results showed that 89% of the 27 adolescents who committed suicide had significant deficits in spelling and handwriting that were similar to those of the adolescents with LD, and they were significantly more impaired than the non-LD adolescents and older adults (65 and older) who had committed suicide in the same time period and in the same geographical area.

Rourke, B., Young, G., & Leenaars, A. (1989). A childhood learning disability that predisposes those afflicted to adolescent and adult depression and suicide risk. Journal Of Learning Disabilities, 22(3), 169-175. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

A particular subtype of learning disability (nonverbal learning disability) is described. This subtype of individuals with learning disability is seen to be at particular risk for depression and suicide. The origins of the study of this subtype of learning disability, its incidence in various forms of neurological disease, disorder, and dysfunction, and its behavioral and socioemotional manifestations (including its association with significant internalized forms of psychopathology) are described. A case history of a young woman who manifests this disability and who has attempted suicide on three occasions is also presented.


05/07/2015 at 8:49 PM
I was diagnosed with Nonverbal Learning Disability at 25, about a year before I lost my dream career to it. That was the most extreme case of a pattern that's occurred my whole life. Combine that with the anxiety and depression the disorder contributes to or causes and it becomes obvious that he suicide risk among this group is very real
02/18/2014 at 2:52 PM
I was diagnosed at 39; I am now 51 and if anyone wants to look up the song "At Seventeen". Divorced twice. Both husbands accused me of having no talent. Each time this was said to me, I would remember the taunts from the kids at school. I was born in 1962, so teachers at school would tell me to get my "MRS. Degree". They were so right. The issue is 70 percent of all learning is nonverbal. The only skill I have aquired is my verbal skills. Tactile is extremely difficult and motor and fine motor skills are practically nonexistent . I have lost jobs, but Praise God Almighty, I have worked for a cruise line for 16 years and American Express for 6 years, which was only achieved by Devine intervention. The technology has gotten so advanced that I had to resign. Unfortunately we cannot pick our poison. I have been without a job for two years. The online applications are nearly impossible for me and no one has ever understood this plaque. I guess the Good Lord wants me to trust in Him alone. Since only a small percetage have this disorder , it"s not out of the closet." It's like we don't matter. I feel for any child or parent with this lonely isolated illness.
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