At Transitions, we know youth with learning disabilities face many challenges, including social struggles. But just like anyone else, having a support system and a sense of community is key to well being for learning disabled people. Thus, finding ways to encourage socialization and peer interaction is essential to combat social exclusion for those with learning disabilities.
Social Exclusion and Learning Disabilities
The learning disabled population is one of the most marginalized groups in Western society today. As a result, many teens and young adults with learning disabilities experience social exclusion. This is due (at least in part) to the discrimination and prejudice faced by these individuals. And the negative effects of social exclusion can have a significant impact later in life. Studies indicate social exclusion in adolescence are linked to problems with adjustment in adulthood. These adjustment problems often manifest as mental health issues and/or criminal activities.
How To Help Your Child
Social exclusion and learning disabilities often go hand-in-hand.And while the consequences of social exclusion and loneliness can be detrimental, there are ways to help your child create and maintain meaningful relationships.
But there are things you can do to help your child.
- Talk to his or her teacher-express your understanding of your child’s struggle with peer relationships and overall social exclusion. Discuss ways you are supporting your child’s socialization, and ask for the teacher to support your efforts.
- Enhance his/her self-esteem–demonstrate you enjoy spending time with your child as a way to boost his or her “social stock” (a.k.a social confidence). Also, use positive reinforcement and encourage him or her to “take risks” when it comes to socialization.
- Model social skills – social exclusion and learning disabilities often go hand-in-hand due to a lack of social skills. Talk about various social skills with your child (i.e. – initiating conversations, assertiveness vs. aggressiveness, problem-solving, etc.) and model health social interaction.
- Create opportunities for your child to interact socially-to combat social exclusion for your child with learning disabilities, encourage him or her to participate in after-school or extracurricular activities, plan outings with peers, etc.
- Do not shame or blame- social exclusion is a difficult challenge to overcome. It is not your child’s fault, nor his or her preference to be socially excluded. Encourage, rather than shame/blame.
Promoting a sense of acceptance and belonging for youth with learning disabilities can help decrease feelings of loneliness and social isolation. With adequate support, encouragement, and training, youth with learning disabilities can make connections and develop meaningful relationships just as anyone else.
To find out more about Transitions programs by calling (518) 775-5384.