According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, one out of every five children has challenges with learning and attention. Although learning disabilities have absolutely nothing to do with one’s level of intelligence, they do unfortunately carry a stigma and may be very difficult for children, especially teenagers, to manage.
Already faced with the normal challenges of adolescence such as peer pressure, raging hormones, relationship drama, struggles for control, and thoughts of the future, teens with a learning disability have the added pressures of actually trying to LEARN.
Research shows that there are several possible causes of learning disabilities including trauma, abuse, or neglect, genetics and even exposure to certain toxins. No one factor is more directly linked to a specific type of learning disability over another and they all may play a vital role in a child’s development, learning and potential.
There are many types of learning disabilities as classified by the National Center for Learning Disabilities.
- Visual Processing Disorder which affects hand/eye coordination and the ability to follow along with the text.
- Auditory Processing Disorder which affects the ability to differentiate between sounds and to separate background noise.
- Dyslexia which affects reading fluency, comprehension, writing, spelling, and speech and may occur along with other learning disabilities.
- Dysgraphia which affects spatial planning, writing, spelling and other fine motor skills.
- Dyspraxia which affects balance and physical activities.
- Dyscalculia which impacts the ability to develop math skills.
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Although ADHD is not necessarily a learning disorder, it is very often associated with other learning disabilities and causes learning challenges.
- Attention Deficit Disorder
Each of the disabilities has differing symptoms, characteristics, and degrees of severity which may prevent a young person from learning at varying levels.
Teenagers with Visual Processing Disorder may have difficulty following along in classes that require them to handle scientific or sports materials. Physical education and chemistry are two examples of classes that these teenagers may have difficulty with.
Teenagers with Auditory Processing Disorder may have trouble understanding lectures or focusing in classes where there’s a lot of chaos. They may appear to be easily distracted by friends and socialize often in class, but that is linked to their disorder.
Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyspraxia, and Dyscalculia are all disorders that negatively impact how teenagers and adolescents deal with and can conceive of their schoolwork as well as the world around them.
And of course, ADHD is one of the most well-known behavioral disorders and one that leads to teenagers struggling within classes due to their inability to focus in class and on homework.
Some of the signs that may be indicators that a teen has a learning disability include withdrawal or aggressive behavior, frustration or apathy toward school, having a hard time comprehending, poor coordination, and issues with memory.
If you have a teenager or have ever been around a teenager, you know that some of these may, in fact, be associated with normal adolescent moodiness and not necessarily a sign of a learning disability, making it difficult to diagnose.
Studies have found that adolescents with learning disabilities experience a higher likelihood of behavioral and mental health challenges.
Unfortunately, because they struggle, they become self-conscious and uneasy, developing anxiety and self-esteem issues manifesting into depression and substance abuse.
However, if properly diagnosed by a doctor or mental health professional, a teen with a learning disability can manage not only their secondary symptoms but also, through therapy they can learn to deal with the learning disabilities themselves.
A learning disability can be best described as the ability of the brain to process certain information and is a neurological issue. There is no cure for a learning disability but therapy may teach teenagers to manage the academic, social, and even employment challenges that they face.
Through an appropriate support system, teens can gain methods and strategies to help them cope with the many learning difficulties and subsequent emotional issues.
If your teen is experiencing any of the symptoms discussed or has been diagnosed with a learning disability, understand that this does not mean that he or she is not capable or willing, but rather that they simply learn in a different way than other students.
Working with qualified therapists, teachers, and doctors, your teen can have success in school, career and in life.
The psychological impact of a teen with a learning disability can be even more significant than the learning aspect itself. Therefore, emotional support through a qualified therapist and treatment center may be the best option to help students and most importantly, teens, to cope with the side effects of their disability.
When considering if therapy is an option to help your teenager to manage his or her learning disabilities, think life success rather than just school success.
At Beachside Treatment Center, it is our goal to provide young people with the tools and resources to empower them to not only overcome any limitations that may hold them back from excelling in school, but to provide them with everything that they need to propel their lives forward and succeed in the real world.
Your hopes and dreams and their own personal aspirations certainly extend well beyond the classroom. They should strive for a healthy self-image, the willingness to ask for help when it is needed, the conviction to keep trying in the face of challenges and the ability to develop healthy relationships. Why not give your child the proper foundation to succeed regardless of their learning disability!
Through the right therapeutic program and support, teens with learning disabilities first learn about self-awareness and self-confidence. Academic challenges such as dyslexia and visual/auditory processing can cause young people to distrust their own abilities and strengths.
Teens who have experienced these academic challenges need reassurance that they CAN be successful; they DO have the ability and strength to work hard; they DO have skills and competencies to overcome their challenges.
During treatment, teens who may experience a sense of being alone or abandoned because of their learning disability can learn to self-advocate. Often times, these children perceive the world as if they are the ONLY one with Dyslexia or Dyscalculia.
They see other children who may be able to easily read or do math problems and feel anxious, displaced and loathsome about their situation. They may not realize that there are options for them and most importantly, they are NOT alone.
When teens are taught to speak up for themselves, they will quickly learn that not only are they not alone but that there is help available to them. They will gain useful problem-solving skills in the process of seeking help for the problem. In learning to defend themselves, they will also learn to make decisions and play an active role in the design of their own future.
Learning disabilities such as Attention Deficit Disorder may prevent students from completing tasks because of lack of focus. They may consistently derail their own efforts simply by the nature of the disorder. This can be frustrating, knowing that they must remain on course or have homework or projects to complete.
Through therapy, teens can learn that through perseverance and diligence, they can successfully complete their assignments and overcome their failures. They have the power and strength to work hard but they may just have to work harder or more diligently than others. These qualities will, in fact, make them a very valuable employee someday as their desire and drive encourage them to never give up.
Unfortunately, many teenagers with learning disabilities are so focused on the academic challenge at hand that they neglect to set appropriate goals for themselves.
Through a well-designed therapy treatment plan, teens can learn to navigate their disability while setting both short-term and long-term goals for themselves. Maybe the student with Dyslexia wants to get an A in the ELA class or the teen with a processing disorder wants to become a scientist.
Each of these goals is attainable if the teens are properly guided to manage their disabilities and overcome their challenges.
Being different is seen as a very negative thing for most teens. The fact that they may struggle with certain things in school and may process differently than other students can cause stress and anxiety in a teen with a learning disability. Through the guidance and support of a trained therapist, students can learn how to regulate their stress and manage their anxiety during those challenging times.
They will learn to identify and give names to those feelings and emotions which place additional burdens on their already challenging situation.
There are several types of therapy geared towards the specific learning disability each with a specific goal in mind.
- Occupational Therapy may be beneficial for teens with dysgraphia or sensory processing issues. Since these types of disabilities typically are displayed by difficulty with physical skills or balance, this type of therapy works with teens to help them overcome these challenges and more confidently use their hands and bodies.
- Speech Therapy helps children with language-based issues such as Dyslexia and Auditory processing disorder. Through this type of therapy, teens can learn to understand what they hear and read and how to properly communicate.
- Social Skills Groups help students to overcome the anxiety and stress caused by fear of the stigma associated with their disabilities.
- Solution-focused counseling offers teens the solutions for problem-solving, decision-making and goal setting which may be inhibited by their learning disabilities.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy may be beneficial for teens who are experiencing the secondary impact of their learning disabilities such as depression, impulsivity, anxiety, emotional instability, and poor behavior.
An experienced, trained professional can guide you and your teen towards the best type of therapy or combination of several which will be suitable and most advantageous for your child’s needs.
By enrolling your child in a therapeutic treatment center such as Beachside, you can help turn their destructive or harmful behavior around by treating the underlying issues causing it which we know can manifest from the challenges of a learning disability.
By providing a safe, supportive environment for teens to express their feelings and emotions about having a learning disability, we aim to empower teens to view it as an opportunity rather than a challenge and to continue to strive to succeed.
Does your child struggle with a learning disability? Are they lashing out because their needs aren’t being met in school? If so, you have options. Beachside can help. Reach out today to find out how our facility can help your teen learn to manage their learning disability.