Introduction (for example, sensory impairment, mental retardation,

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For any human, education is the most valuable tool in
their life. It is the means of a secured employment as well as an independent
life for an individual. However, not all children have the same learning
efficiency. Children who face problems with learning might have some learning

The neurologically base processing problems are known
as learning disabilities. Such problems can interrupt the basic learning skills
such as reading and writing as well as higher level skills such as long-term
memory, short-term memory and attention. Learning disabilities are usually misinterpreted
as problems with intelligence and motivation. It is important to realise that
people with learning disabilities are not dumb or lazy but they only receive
and process information differently.

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In 1980s, the National Joint Committee on Learning
Disabilities (NJCLD) define the term learning
disability as: “Learning
disabilities is a general term that refers to a heterogeneous group of
disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of
listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities.
These disorders are intrinsic to the individual, presumed to be due to central
nervous system dysfunction, and may occur across the life span. Problems in
self-regulatory behaviors, social perception, and social interaction may exist
with learning disabilities but do not by themselves constitute a learning
disability. Although learning disabilities may occur concomitantly with other
handicapping conditions (for example, sensory impairment, mental retardation,
serious emotional disturbance), or with extrinsic influences (such as cultural
differences, insufficient or inappropriate instruction), they are not the
result of those conditions or influences.” (Hammill,
D. D., Leigh, J. E., G. M., & Larsen, S. C. (1981). A NEW DEFINITION OF
LEARNING DISABILITIES . Learning Disability Quarterly ,4. Retrieved January 20, 2016, from

History of Learning Disabilities

The term learning disability was first formulated and popularised by Dr. Samuel Kirk in 1963 in Chicago. He was a
psychologist who mainly worked with parents of children who had minimal brain
dysfunction and strephosymbolia. He suggested the parents to start referring
their children as having learning disabilities instead of these cumbersome terms.
(Niolon, R. (n.d.). What is a Learning Disability? Retrieved December 12, 2013,

During the late 1960s, learning disabilities gained great awareness from
the general public and congress. This led to the US Office of Education
creating a federal definition for consisting a part of learning disabilities.
This committee was chaired by Dr. Samuel Kirk. In 1968, Dr. Kirk headed the
first annual report the first annual report of
the National Advisory Committee on Handicapped Children in which he wrote:

“Children with special learning disabilities exhibit a
disorder in one or more of the basic, psychological processes involved in
understanding or in using spoken or written languages. These may be manifested
in disorders of listening, thinking, talking, reading, writing, spelling, or
arithmetic. They include conditions which have been referred to as perceptual
handicaps, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, developmental
aphasia, etc. They do not include learning problems which are due primarily to
visual, hearing, or motor handicaps, to mental retardation, emotional
disturbance, or to environmental disadvantage.” (Introduction to Learning
Disabilities. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Symptoms of learning disabilities are listed below
according to the age group:

Signs and symptoms
of learning disabilities: Preschool age

Problems pronouncing words

Trouble finding the right word

Difficulty rhyming

Trouble learning the alphabet, numbers, colours,
shapes, days of the week

Difficulty following directions or learning

Difficulty controlling crayons, pencils, and
scissors, or colouring within the lines

Trouble with buttons, zippers, snaps, learning to
tie shoes

Signs and symptoms
of learning disabilities: Ages 5-9

Trouble learning the connection between letters and

Unable to blend sounds to make words

Confuses basic words when reading

Slow to learn new skills

Consistently misspells words and makes frequent

Trouble learning basic math concepts

Difficulty telling time and remembering sequences

Signs and symptoms
of learning disabilities: Ages 10-13

Difficulty with reading comprehension or math

Trouble with open-ended test questions and word

Dislikes reading and writing; avoids reading aloud

Poor handwriting

Poor organizational skills (bedroom, homework, desk
is messy and disorganized)

Trouble following classroom discussions and
expressing thoughts aloud

Spells the same word differently in a single

(G. S., M. S., & J. S. (2017, December). Learning
Disabilities and Disorders. Retrieved from


To study the
development of learning disabilities in adolescents


To study the emotional well-being of adolescent
with learning disabilities

To compare adolescents with learning disabilities
to the adolescents with no learning disabilities.

Review of Literature

Traditionally, the learning disability field
has given most of its attention and resources to the issues of service delivery
and teacher training. However in the recent years, research and validation
activities are given increased emphasis. (Deshler, D. D., Schumaker, J. B., Alley, G. R., Warner,
M. M., & Clark, F. L. (1982). Learning Disabilities in Adolescents
and Young Adult Populations: Research Implications Part 1. Institute for
Research in Learning Disabilities.)

In 1980s, a lot of children were referred as learning
disables and were sent for the tests to prove the same and pursue special
education. This was thought as the teacher’s incapability or reluctance to
teach academic diversity in one classroom. (Fuchs, D., Mock, D., Morgan, P. L., & Young, C. L. (2003).
Responsiveness?to?intervention: Definitions, evidence, and
implications for the learning disabilities construct. Learning Disabilities Research
& Practice, 18(3), 157-171.)

Learning disabilities not only affect an
adolescent’s academic life but also factors like their self-esteem and
aspiration. Adolescents with learning disabilities are found to have depression
and suicidal tendencies due to the difficulties faced by them in the society. On
comparing the adolescents with learning disabilities to adolescents with no
learning disabilities on the basis of academic self-concept, attribution of
adolescents, anxiety, depression and suicide it was noted that adolescents with
learning disabilities have more negative set back of mind as compared to their
peers.( Huntington, D. D., &
Bender, W. N. (1993). Adolescents with learning disabilities at risk? Emotional
well-being, depression, suicide. Journal of learning disabilities, 26(3),




Academic Self-

On the basis of
Perception of Ability Scale for Students, adolescents with no learning
disabilities scored significantly higher than the adolescents with no
learning disabilities

In the
Perception of Ability Scale for Students, adolescents with learning
disabilities scored lower than adolescents with no learning disabilities.
This proves that the academic self-esteem of 
adolescents with learning disabilities is lower and usual and it may
affect their all emotional well-being.


Researches show
that adolescents with no learning disabilities have better success and
failure attribute with helps them in maintaining a healthy self- esteem.

After several researches
if has been found that the adolescents with learning disabilities face many
difficulties in their secondary school. Researches demonstrate that these
adolescents have internally higher attribute in both success and failure. But
these internal attributions for failure at difficult tasks could lead these
students towards fairly severe self-criticism.


Students with no
learning disabilities had competitively higher confidence which led to having
lower level of anxiety when having to appear in front of their fellow beings.

It was found
that students with learning disabilities had their trait anxiety levels
higher than usual. Also the anxiety level was correlated to their disturbed sleep
due to their fear of appearing amateur in front of their fellow beings. The
research also stated that there might be more severe consequences when it
came to dealing with anxiety for these students.


These students were
not found to be as depressed as the students with learning disabilities.

These students
were found to be at severe risk of being depressed as compared to their peers
due to their low self-esteem and high level of anxiety. This was found to be
very alarming for both the teachers as well as the parents.


There has been a
quick rise of suicide among the adolescents in the past few years. The reason
for this was mainly peer pressure and high social expectations. But the
increasing suicidal rates in these students were comparatively lower than
students with learning disabilities.

These students
were found to have abnormally low self-concept. Due to this, they were found
at a higher risk of suicide or parasuicide. Along with low self-concept there
were other reasons found of increasing suicide rates such as cognitive
deficit, inaccurate social perception and stressful situation with their peers.

Tabular representation of the comparison
between adolescents with learning disabilities and adolescents with no learning
disabilities on the basis of 5 factors.( Huntington, D. D., & Bender, W. N. (1993). Adolescents
with learning disabilities at risk? Emotional well-being, depression,
suicide. Journal of learning disabilities, 26(3),

The article Subtypes of Learning Disabilities in Adolescents and Adults had the hypothesis
that if the classification scheme developed for
the subtyping of learning disabilities in children is used population of
adolescents and adults then it would be easy to subtype into more specific and
similar group for cognitive functioning and achievement. The authors divided
their subject population into three groups- arithmetic disability (AD), reading
disability (RD), and reading and arithmetic disabilities (RAD) and compared
them amongst and with a comparison group with normal achievement (NA) on different
cognitive and achievement measures. (Shafrir, U., & Siegel, L. S. (1994). Subtypes of learning
disabilities in adolescents and adults. Journal of learning
disabilities, 27(2), 123-124.)

the comparison, following were the findings:

Each group varied from the other on the tests
of spelling, memory, reading, and various cognitive measures

Reading Disabilities and Reading and Arithmetic Disabilities groups
showed a deficiency in vocabulary, spelling, and short term memory.

In several tasks the Reading and Arithmetic Disabilities
group performed more poorly than the other groups;

The Normal Achievement and Reading Disabilities groups performed
better than the Arithmetic Disabilities and Reading Arithmetic Disabilities
groups on a visual-spatial task. 

(Shafrir, U., & Siegel, L. S. (1994).
Subtypes of learning disabilities in adolescents and adults. Journal of
learning disabilities, 27(2), 123-124.)

Children and
adolescents’ are assessed for reliability and validity based on four approaches
including models based on aptitude achievement, low achievement, intra-individual
differences and response to intervention. Based on the mentioned approaches, it
was found that the reliability of the models based on aptitude achievement and
low achievement are identifies with severe psychometric problems. The aptitude
achievement and intra individual differences had validity problems. Whereas the
models for response to intervention are more likely for addressing both validity
and reliability. When speaking of relation to the treatments, models for low
achievement and response to intervention have the solidest evidence base and
relation to the treatment. This type of model is mainly implicated for clinical
assessments of children with learning disabilities. ( Fletcher, J. M., Francis, D. J., Morris, R. D., & Lyon,
G. R. (2005). Evidence-based assessment of learning disabilities in children
and adolescents. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 34(3), 506-522.)



The above researches help us in understanding and viewing
learning disabilities from a different view. Adolescents with learning
disabilities not only face difficulties with their socio-academic life but also
with their self-esteem, attribution toward self and self-confidence. The risks
of suicide and depression have increased at an alarming pace and have been the
major concern for the teachers and parents. In the 1980s, teachers were found
to be unable or unwilling to teach in a classroom with huge academic diversity.

The lack of
acceptance in the society has affected the emotional well-being of an adolescent
with learning disabilities.

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