This paper explores twelve published articles that report on results from research conducted through Athabasca University’s online journal library. The purpose of this paper is to report on the various aspects of the social impact of adolescent learning disabled students in the classroom, to bring to light some of the challenges and to offer some practical solutions. Aspects such as the social impact on youths with disabilities, peer status, bullying, loneliness, how to develop social skills and practical social skills strategies for teachers will all be explored. HETEROGENITY OF LEARNING DISABILITIES
Before exploring what the social impact of students with learning disabilities is in the classroom, it is necessary to keep in mind a broad term definition of a learning disability. The term learning disability is a loosely used word to describe the difficulty someone may have in the use of a variety of functions, including an impairment in one or more academic areas. Martinez, and Semrud-Clikeman (2004) suggest that guidelines currently recommend that a diagnosis of a learning disability be based on the severe discrepancy between scores that measure ability and achievement in one or more of the following areas: oral expression, listening comprehension, written expression, reading and math. Despite these categories, educators will often group learning disabled individuals into a single learning disability category, even though there may be more than one learning deficit.
In order for a child to move forward and find one’s identity, a child must learn to trust others, gain autonomy, and demonstrate initiative and industry (Zambo, 2010). As humans, we care about what others think about us, where we fit in the world and who we are. Research by social theorists shows that identity is comprised of four elements: the category we place ourselves in, the status we give these groups, the affection we feel towards these groups and the pride we feel as a member of the group, or groups (Zambo, 2010). Adolescents with disabilities may not be accepted by a group because they are perceived as being less-able. Usually, by ninth grade, adolescents have come to distinguish who is and who isn’t included in the various groups. Zambo (2010) mentions that students with disabilities often find themselves as being not able because others cast them that way. In order for adolescents to have better opportunities to be accepted, they need to develop and learn the skills, knowledge and esteem to believe in themselves. SOCIAL IMPACT
For youths with disabilities, it is good to belong to multiple groups and have multiple identities (Zambo, 2010). Humans are social creatures and belonging to social groups is important to most, if not all of us. Connecting with others is very important, especially during adolescence. An adolescent’s identity is formed by who their acquaintances are and it is these friends who the adolescent will use for support. Zambo (2010) mentions that adolescents are far more likely to thrive when they are accepted into social groups and when they have friends. When stressful situations arise, they are better equipped to deal with these issues when they have others to talk too, which allows their immune systems to function better. Adolescents with friends are generally more healthy than those who feel isolated and in contrast, who will have no one to discuss their problems with. This lack of connection is very important and with this lack of connection, stress levels may rise. What might otherwise be a minor incident to an adolescent with social connections who can turn to friends for help, might result in the non-social adolescent being more irritated, more aggressive, get more headaches and colds and in turn miss more school, which, inevitably will negatively affect academics and opportunities to further develop social skills. Missing too much social interaction, or school for many students lends...