Children with dyslexia face many obvious academic challenges, particularly as they pertain to reading, spelling, and writing. Dyslexic children face additional emotional difficulties, such as anger, anxiety, and depression. However, the negative impacts of the disorder cannot be discussed without examining the social difficulties that result from dyslexia as well.
Because dyslexic children have such a frustrating time with schoolwork, they can develop a profound sense of insecurity, not just about their academic abilities, but also with regard to their inherent value and self-worth. Reduced self-confidence can damper self-esteem and cause children to become withdrawn. This kind of isolation makes it very difficult for a child with dyslexia to interact with others and make friends. Teachers might see a dyslexic child eating alone at lunch or idly standing by on the playground as other children engage in games, thus highlighting the social difficulties that result from dyslexia.
Children who feel threatened or intimidated by others, as dyslexic children who are forced to read aloud in class often do, can become aggressive and even anti-social, lashing out at others who poke fun at them. Just trying to cope with the academic demands of the school day can elevate a dyslexic child’s stress level to the point that their emotions boil over. This behavior can further alienate classmates and even teachers, thus exacerbating the social difficulties that result from dyslexia.
Teachers and other educational professionals may misinterpret a dyslexic child’s frustration as inherent meanness and label the child as uncooperative and anti-social. Teachers can become impatient with a child even when they know the child has dyslexia, as some schools do not provide adequate training and support for educators to effectively work with learning disabled children. What results is a vicious cycle in which the dyslexic child receives negative feedback from teachers and peers, which causes them to engage in avoidance and self-blame, and gets further negative feedback as he or she becomes increasingly despondent, frustrated or angry.
The key to reversing the social difficulties that result from dyslexia is support from all those involved in the education of the dyslexic child. Teachers and other educational professionals, parents, therapists and the dyslexic child should all work together to develop a comprehensive program to manage the dyslexia symptoms and provide educational, social and emotional support. Attacking the dyslexia symptoms head on will have a trickle-down effect, and improve socio-emotional functioning along the way. For more information about dyslexia and drug-free treatments for dyslexia, visit the Learning Breakthrough Program’s dyslexia page.