That person may have a learning disability or attention deficit disorder. What you may not realize however, is that these challenges not only effect learning, but often have a profound effect on self-esteem, socialization, and overall success in life. While most individuals with learning disabilities have average or even superior intelligence, this is often overshadowed by the emotional difficulties that may accompany the fact that they learn and process information differently than the average person.
The top 5 emotional difficulties that are often experienced by individuals with learning difficulties as identified on the website LD Pride (ldpride.net) are:
1. Shame: Often individuals that have difficulty with learning experience shame that they cannot learn as efficiently as their classmates or co-workers. They are often seen as unmotivated, lazy, or defiant. They may not understand that they have a different style of learning or may need to learn in a different manner. They often feel ashamed or deny there is a problem. They may deflect these feelings with sarcasm, humor, or avoidance.
2. Fear: Individuals with learning differences often live with the fear of being “found out”, fear of failure, fear of judgment (ridicule), or rejection. These fears may show up as anger or anxiety. Individuals may lash out in anger, quit a job or activity before they have a chance to fail, or pretend to do something when they haven’t. They may appear shy or withdrawn, because they don’t understand a situation and don’t want to appear stupid.
3. Environmental and Emotional Sensitivity: Overstimulation by environmental noise or activity is often a challenge for individuals with learning differences, as may be sensitivity to particular foods, fabrics, or too much auditory or visual stimulation. These sensitivities may make it hard for them to fully participate in social events such as parties or family gatherings. They may also be more emotionally sensitive and over respond to things that are seen or experienced.
4. Emotional Regulation: Along with emotional sensitivity may come difficulty regulating emotions. These individuals my often switch frequently from one extreme to another, with little warning. They may be prone to impulsivity and have difficulty controlling their reactions to situations. They may become depressed, anxious, or angry especially if they feel misunderstood or ridiculed.
5. Difficulty Adjusting to Change: Individuals with learning difficulties are often experienced as inflexible due to their difficulty adjusting to change. It may be hard for them to change gears once they have figured out a system that works for them. Changing the task, may involve coming up with a new strategy, something that might present further anxiety and challenge.
If you have a friend or family member that is experiencing some of these challenges they may have a learning disability or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. If they have not yet been tested or identified (even if they are an adult), it may prove a great relief to them to finally know and understand why learning has been so difficult. It will also be helpful to friends and family members to understand the cause of these behaviors. Counseling can help both the individual and family members learn effective strategies and communication tools to overcome these challenges and become more successful in their relationships and future goals.