A comparison of learning disability subtypes in middle school: self-concept, perceived social support, and emotional functioning

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Martínez, Rebecca Suzanne

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Abstract: The goal of the current study was to compare young adolescents in middle school with different types of learning disabilities and a group with no learning disability and examine their self-perceptions of worth, perceived social and emotional functioning. It was hypothesized that students with a reading and math disability (LD) would report significantly lower levels of self-concept, perceived social support and emotional functioning while normally achieving students (i.e., no learning disability) were expected to fare the best. It was also expected that students in the reading disability (RD) group would fare the next worst. Finally, girls were hypothesized to report lower scores than boys on all dependent variables. Multivariate analyses of group differences revealed that the groups did not differ on global self-worth, although girls reported lower global self-worth than boys, regardless of group membership. Students in the LD group (reading disability in reading and mathematics) rated their intellectual and academic selfworth lower than students in the other groups (RD-reading disability, MD-math disability, NA-normally achieving). Girls, regardless of group, also reported lower intellectual self-concept than boys. There were no group or gender differences on non-academic self-concept. Students with LD reported lower parent and friend support compared to students in the other groups. Boys also rated their friend support lower than that of girls, regardless of group membership. There were no reported differences by group or gender on classmate, teacher, or general social support. Students in the LD group and girls reported higher levels of pathology compared to the groups and boys on depression, sense of inadequacy, emotional symptoms, and personal adjustment.