School students with Specific Learning Disabilities (SpLDs) experience chronic academic underachievement and resultant stress, according to a study.
The study was conducted by the doctors of KEM Hospital to check whether anxiety is more common in school students with newly diagnosed SpLDs compared to their regular peers. The cases analysed (aged 8-15 years) were from four learning disability clinics. The matched controls were recruited from four schools in Mumbai. Anxiety was measured using the Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale (SCAS).
SCAS scores were significantly higher in 8-11-year-old learning-disabled male and female students and 12-15-year-old female students compared with matched controls. A significantly higher number of learning-disabled students were found to have “clinical anxiety” compared with the controls regardless of gender, age group, presence of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or associated medical conditions.
Gender or associated medical conditions, and type of school attended or curriculum did not impact the prevalence of “clinical anxiety” in learning-disabled students.
“Students with newly diagnosed SpLDs have greater odds of being ‘clinically anxious’ relative to their regular peers. We recommend screening for anxiety in children with SpLDs immediately after diagnosis so that their optimum rehabilitation can be facilitated,” the report said.
SpLDs are a group of neuro-developmental disorders characterised by severe and persistent difficulties in learning to efficiently read, write or perform mathematical calculations despite conventional instruction, intact hearing and vision, adequate motivation, and socio-cultural opportunity.
It is estimated that 3-15 per cent of school students have one or more of these disabilities. These students achieve school grades that do not correspond to their abilities, that is, they are “underachievers” and may also experience difficulties in coping with the problems of daily living and social adaptation. Being a chronic condition, the student’s problems generate stress for the entire family. Students with newly diagnosed SpLDs perceive their psycho-social, physical and overall health-related quality of life to be significantly compromised.