Kids develop learning disabilities for numerous reasons. Although they might have continued support at home and school, the disability can affect your child’s mental wellness. Check out how a learning disability can affect a child’s mental health to understand what they’re going through and improve their wellbeing.
1. They Could Feel Frustrated
People of all ages would likely rather fit in with their peers than stand out in a crowd. Seeing people like you is affirming, so kids with learning disabilities often feel frustrated that they can’t follow the same lesson plans as their classmates.
Being different means you might not get approval from your friends, which feels ostracising. It might cause a child to feel anxiety at a young age. Research shows that 21% of kids with learning disabilities also have an anxiety disorder. Therapy and parents encouraging their kids to accept those with learning disabilities without judgment can reduce the intensity of this experience.
2. They Might Experience Bullying
When children and teens meet someone unlike anyone they’ve ever met, they might start bullying them. It could reflect their need for control at home or their fear of the unknown. No matter their motivation, the bullied student has a 35.8% chance of developing depression even at a young age.
Kids don’t always understand learning disabilities. They may react negatively to a classmate who needs a different lesson plan or more time for tests. Those with learning disabilities could experience depression while simultaneously putting up with bullies.
3. They May Not Experience All Forms Of Play
Learning disabilities may present themselves when a child is in preschool or kindergarten. The first few years of any child’s life are crucial in numerous ways, especially because that’s when they experience the world through playtime.
Whether kids are playing outside or inside, they often engage in six types of play that connect with their mental health:
If your child misses out on all six experiences, their mental health may fall behind. Associative play teaches kids social skills because they do different activities alongside their peers. If a child with learning disabilities can’t participate in group activities with other kids, they may develop conditions like depression due to isolation.
4. They Could Struggle With Sleeping
Sleep is essential for cognitive functioning. Without it, the brain can’t reset and prepare for daily activities like recognition, learning and memory storage. Kids with learning disabilities may struggle with sleep because their brain functions differently. The lack of sleep and continued low energy can amplify a child’s stress, leading to insomnia that could indicate an undiagnosed learning disability.
5. They Might Develop Anger Issues
Kids often express anger when they can’t communicate a need. They might have a temper tantrum when they’re hungry and too young to communicate about it. Anger can also trigger symptoms like impatience, which relate to other mental health conditions like ADHD.
Learning disabilities can cause frustration that triggers bouts of anger. Whether your child is frustrated with school, social activities after school or experiences at home, they might be angrier than other kids because they haven’t made peace with how their brain naturally functions.
6. They May Not Want To Socialize
If you were bullied at school or made fun of by your friends, you may not want to socialize less often. It’s not fun to feel mocked or different. Kids with learning disabilities may cope with those experiences by shying away from social opportunities.
Staying at home to recharge or rest is one thing. Isolating yourself for long periods is different. A lack of social interactions can increase the brain’s cortisol levels, resulting in anxiety and depression in children that linger long into adulthood.
7. They Could Battle Hopelessness
Kids watch shows and read books where the protagonists encounter problems, figure out solutions and enjoy happy endings where the issues don’t exist anymore. Real-world challenges can’t always have the same solutions.
When they receive a learning disability diagnosis, a child might believe there’s a way to resolve the diagnosis. A specialized education plan and therapy could seem like what they need to make the disability disappear, but that’s not how disabilities work.
The result could mean your child battles hopelessness that they’ll never live identically to their friends. They might think they won’t be able to go to college or have the career they want. Attending therapy can minimize this hopelessness because they’ll understand how their brain works without seeing it as a personal fault that needs fixing.
8. They Might Start Unhealthy Eating Habits
Feeling different and resenting the cause of that difference can mean that a child redirects their anger on themselves. They might internalize their frustration by unconsciously eating less or consuming too much food in one sitting.
A recent study found that 9.54% of 262 participants with learning disabilities also had eating disorders. Proactive, preventative therapy may mitigate the likelihood of your child growing up with disordered eating. They can also receive help in a recovery program that treats minors if their eating disorder already exists.
Strengthen Your Child’s Mental Health
You love your child unconditionally, but they may still struggle growing up with a learning disability. Learning differences can affect your child’s mental health at home and school. Watch for these symptoms to assist them as they grow and help them have a wonderful childhood.