By Linda Broatch, M.A. , Malka Margalit, Ph.D.
Children with learning disabilities (LD) are more likely to be lonely than kids without LD. A growing body of research shows that many children with LD face considerable challenges in making and keeping friends. Fortunately for parents of children with LD, research studies also offer some guidance about effective approaches to help children cope with or avoid loneliness.
In this article, the second of two on the topic of loneliness among children with LD, we present the research findings of Dr. Malka Margalit, Head of the Constantiner School of Education at Tel-Aviv University in Israel, who has studied loneliness among children with LD for more than 20 years.
The first article, "Loneliness among Children with Learning Disabilities,” addressed the questions:
In this article, we summarize some of Dr. Margalit’s research on:
When researchers study popularity and friendships in school settings, they often ask children to name several kids in their class they like and several they dislike. When two children name each other as a person they like, researchers refer to them as “identified friends.” Likewise, two kids who name each other as a person they dislike are termed “identified enemies.”
Using the identified-friend/enemy survey, Dr. Margalit’s research1 revealed that, within the group of children with LD, those who had at least one “identified enemy” in the class felt lonelier than kids with LD who had no identified enemies. However, among the kids without LD , those with an identified enemy did not feel lonelier than kids without an identified enemy. This finding reveals, Dr. Margalit says, the social and emotional vulnerability of students with LD, who, because they often have such limited social networks, attach greater importance to the negative attitudes of other kids toward them. In general, research shows that children with LD are more likely to experience social stresses such as loneliness, and are less likely to have the internal resources to cope effectively with them.
Interestingly, one of Dr. Margalit’s studies indicated that computer use predicted lower levels of loneliness for kids with LD. “We need to look more closely at whether children’s use of the Internet will challenge our traditional views of understanding what loneliness and friendship are,” Dr. Margalit commented. “Sometimes we are biased against technology, worried that children may neglect their face-to-face friendships in favor of virtual connections. I would like to encourage parents to think differently about e-friends and Web peers, since they may expand children’s social networks, enable them to try out their social skills, as well as give them a different sense of their social status.”
Dr. Margalit conducted another study2 to determine whether social environment would have any impact on the prevalence of loneliness among teenagers with LD. She and her colleagues compared rates of loneliness between a mixed (with and without LD) group of teens living in an urban environment, and a comparable group of teens living on an Israeli kibbutz. Because the kibbutz is a highly communal living arrangement, some researchers predicted that kids with LD in this environment would be less likely than the urban kids with LD to experience loneliness. This was not the case. In fact, this and other studies showed that, across age and social setting, teenage kids with LD consistently reported higher levels of loneliness. They were also rated by their teachers as less socially adjusted, and by their peers as less accepted.
In several studies of loneliness among children with LD, according to Dr. Margalit, a small group of kids with LD was identified who were not more likely to view themselves as lonely or socially distressed than were their peers without LD. Using a research approach that emphasizes identifying kids’ strengths, Dr. Margalit identified two characteristics common to the children with LD who were not lonelier than their peers without LD:
A child with a strong sense of coherence views the world both within and outside himself as ordered and predictable. When this child faces a problem, such as feeling isolated and out of touch with classmates, he is able to assess the problem and choose, from among a repertoire of social skills, an appropriate strategy to address it. For example, he might strike up a conversation with a classmate, using the strategy of identifying a mutual interest such as a recent movie, a television program, or a new computer game. Or the child might develop social relationships outside school, either in his neighborhood or through a hobby or a leisure activity that involves contact with other children.
Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you more
insights to help you help your child succeed.
Thank you! You will begin to receive newsletters from us shortly.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to complete your registration.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to submit your review.
Please click on the link in the verification email we just sent you to complete your change of email address.
Whoops! It looks like we still need to verify your email. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the e-mail? Click the button below and we'll send you a new one.
Thanks for registering. Welcome to GreatSchools, the largest online community committed to improving educational outcomes through parental involvement.
Thanks for verifying your updated email address.
Oops! You haven't verified your email address yet. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the email? Click the button below to receive a new one.
Oops! That email verification link has expired. Please click the button below to receive a new one.
Create an account to submit your answers.
Sign in with an existing GreatSchools account or using Facebook:
Your review has been posted to GreatSchools.
Share with friends! Post your opinion of on Facebook.
Welcome to GreatSchools!
For principals and school officials, we offer a special Enhanced School Profile (ESP) which allows you to update and add information about your school, as well as respond to reviews. If you are a school official, click Continue to start.
Please note that it can take up to 48 hours for your comment to be posted to our site. While you're here, we'd like to invite you to fill out a survey on your school's programs, activities, and extracurriculars. It only takes a few minutes and will help parents get a full picture of your school.
Get started now! You have successfully registered and can now start updating your Official School Profile. The information you provide is extremely valuable in helping parents and students learn more about your school, so thanks for taking the time!
Thank you for registering as a school leader. We just need to verify your email address. We've sent you an email - please click on the link in that message to get started editing your school's information!
Thanks! We just sent you an email – please click on the link in the email to post your answers.
Get timely updates for , including performance data and recently posted user reviews.