Statistics indicate that learning and attention disabilities affect one in five children. Research shows that learning disabilities can develop due to genetics and /or neurobiological factors. Learning disabilities can range from reading and writing difficulties to attention and hyperactivity issues. In conjunction with these difficulties, mental health issues can also result. Mental health issues can include anger, irritability and worthlessness. Since learning disabilities and mental health issues are invisible, it is hard to know if one has one of these conditions. I have a learning disability. As a result of a neurological condition, I have attention, reading comprehension and executive functioning deficits. My learning challenges have also affected my mental health.
My fifth grade teachers noticed that I was having difficulties with attention and reading comprehension. They referred me to a neuropsychologist for an evaluation. The evaluation indicated that my neurological condition was causing learning challenge; specifically, deficits in attention, reading comprehension and executive functioning.
In order to compensate for my deficits, I participated in cognitive remediation with a neuropsychologist, three times a week. She helped me develop strategies such as taking notes and underlining to increase reading comprehension, creating outlines to help organize my thoughts when writing essays and making schedules to break down school tasks into more manageable pieces.
The downside of using the compensations I was taught, was that I had to work twice as hard as the average student who did not have learning challenges. As a result, this limited my social life, including after school activities and playdates. Not being able to participate in normal social activities like any other kid caused me to have issues with depression and anxiety. While I did not take medication at that time to help, my neuropsychologist did provide counselling. Just as with academic strategies, she helped me with psychological strategies. Psychological strategies included figuring out ways to make friends with my classmates, to not be bullied as well as other strategies including with my family life.
Learning disabilities can result in mental health challenges. As such, a neuropsychological evaluation includes a section that is on emotional health. Oftentimes, working with a neuropsychologist for cognitive remediation and a psychotherapist is recommended. Even if a child is not exhibiting mental health issues at the present time, mental health issues are possible to develop. For every individual who has been recently diagnosed with a learning disability should be aware of the signs of mental health challenges and consult the appropriate health professional if symptoms begin to occur.
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