Lifeline Connections

Learning Disabilities

Overcoming Stigma: Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities in children

At least 1 in 5 children across the United States have a learning disability. Not surprisingly, a lack of understanding increases the time it takes for children to get help. This help is important to improve their school and work performance. Many of these are neuro-developmental and have a neurological basis. Some, like ADHD, are highly genetic and many parents learn that they have the disorder as well when they take their children to get treatment. With all of this in mind, it is important to debunk the myths that perpetuate the stigma that many face.

Myth #1: Children can grow out of it

Learning disabilities are neuro-developmental, which means that their brains are wired and develop differently. This affects their learning in a general. This is not a reflection of the children’s intelligence, but rather the reflection of inadequate support in schools. Symptoms of learning disabilities can arise in early toddler hood. Some symptoms include learning to speak late, slow vocabulary growth or difficulty with the alphabet. While symptoms change across age groups, those who have learning disorders when they are younger often experience symptoms into adulthood. Providing adequate support when they are younger allows them to develop skills that will help them through the rest of their lives.

Myth #2: Many believe those with learning disabilities are just lazy.

It is important to remember that those with learning disabilities learn differently and need more one-on-one support and resources than others. People with learning disabilities have different neural wiring. This makes the problem brain-based not motivational. The idea that those with learning disabilities are lazy is harmful, especially when teachers also identify with this idea. Many children with learning disabilities who drop out of school do not continue to college. These people report the reason has to do with poor relationships with teachers and peers. Additionally, these same people state the stigma of identifying with a learning disability when applying for testing accommodations is negative.

Myth #3: They only cause problems in school.

Learning disabilities can cause problems not only in school situations, but they can also affect people’s abilities to work properly. Many are quick to blame school environments, but students with learning abilities can do quite well if they are supported with adequate resources.

The stigma and the lack of resources to support people have lasting impacts. Those with learning disabilities are less likely to enroll in college and university, more likely to drop out and less likely to hold jobs. People with learning disabilities might face a number of mental health difficulties as a result of how their learning disorder is viewed by their peers, teachers, and parents. Learning disabilities and ADHD both have high instances of co-occurring disorders like anxiety and depression.

There are many different ways to combat mental health disorders and each patient is different. If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health disorder, like depression or anxiety, please contact the professional team at Lifeline Connections. You can visit or call (360) 397-8246 for more information.


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