Facebook Twitter

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.


01/20/2014 at 6:35 PM
I am dyslexic- at 16 I attempted suicide. I want to try and figure out some causes, now 23 a Social Worker I want to stop this cycle. Was the above research done just in America?
03/03/2013 at 8:18 PM
I'm diagnosed with a nonverbal learning disorder and can personally vouch for the information in this article. I fit the criteria well, except I do not have apparent motor difficulties. After dropping out of high school my junior year for failing to keep up and then earning the GED, I could not stay in college (despite beginning as one of the top of my class in most of them, I was never able to stay in enough classes to graduate even a two-year college and eventually gave up out of frustration). I was first tested formally at 17, in which NLD was suggested due to very noticeable performance and verbal IQ differences. I was tested again at 25, with nearly identical results. I was told my massive difference in verbal and performance IQs (with scores in the verbal area as high as the 98th percentile for college graduates and more than one nonverbal scores in the very bottom 1%, in which I was completely hopeless and unable to even finish several of the cognitive tasks) was enough by that point, and NLD became formal for me, albeit a bit too late, as I had already stagnated, became totally paralyzed, and failed out, with no perceived reason to return. I was hospitalized at 22 for suicidal and homicidal ideation, which I still experience often but don't feel very hopeful about stopping. Days seem to go by extremely quickly and I'm deathly vulnerable to overstimulation. I can only function in quiet environments when I don't have to focus on more than one thing at a time. I've been threatened with job termination for accused excessive carelessness. Considering that I've been awarded and prized for extraordinary verbal and writing skills (I do not experience social anxiety and can write excellent essays, presentations, and also poetry) as well as a surprising aptitude for competitive tournament-style Hold 'Em poker (I've made significant winnings over the years this way, including a tournament at the Luxor in Las Vegas), I continue to fail at maintaining even a basic steady lifestyle. My inability to tolerate overstimulation and the anxiety I get by the feeling of time passing too quickly for me to keep up critically injure any future I can create for myself. That's my sob story for NLD.
Leave a Comment
All fields are required
Allowed Tags: <b>, <i>, <br>