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Direct observation was used as a research method. Two samples of different age groups were selected. The first group consisted of six 12 and 13-year adolescents with learning disabilities. The observation was conducted in general education classrooms for a total time of 90 minutes. The second group consisted of five adults with learning disabilities. The age of the group ranged from 26 to 37 years. The observations were conducted in a day center setting for 1.5 hours.
In order to proceed with the observation, it is necessary to identify the normal issues likely to be encountered by the representatives of both groups. First, it is important to recognize physiological issues undergone by adolescents during their transition to maturity. Specifically, due to the rapid and uneven physical development, some of the individuals can experience developmental delays whereas others show signs of maturity early. According to human development theory, this disparity can lead to noticeable socioemotional issues, where some of the adolescents can perceive the difference as a threat to their self-esteem. In some cases, the effect can be amplified by the feedback from peers. On the other hand, individuals with accelerated development can become subject to excessive attention from their friends, contributing to stress and creating concerns regarding their body image. Some of the issues, such as a change in voice tone, attract unwanted attention, leading to adverse effects on wellness over the lifespan.
On the other hand, the cognitive aspect becomes more prominent at this stage. According to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, all five indicators of cognitive development become expressed to a certain degree at this stage, creating a complex system of values and perceptions.
Next, it is important to identify issues pertinent to representatives of the adult group. At this stage, the most apparent physical changes are the gradual gain in weight and minor factors such as loss of skin elasticity. The changes in the cognitive domain are less subtle and are unlikely to be located during the observation. However, age is associated with a major developmental crisis referred to as a midlife crisis. This factor is a major source of issues and is commonly perceived as one of the risk factors for addiction formation and needs to be acknowledged during the development of a prevention strategy. Finally, according to Jung’s developmental theory, individuals of this age group are more likely to become religious to cope with existential concerns, further aggravating the effect.
Physical, Cognitive, and Socioemotional Behaviors
The observation has revealed that both groups were slightly less likely to engage in physical activity than is normal for their age range. Specifically, the majority of adolescents were physically inactive throughout the entire observation, engaging mostly in sedentary activities. Admittedly, the value of this observation is limited by the relatively short time span of the observation session, which did not provide reliable data on the matter. However, these findings are consistent with the discouraging effect of disability at a young age on healthy physical activities.
A similar effect was observed in the adult group. The subjects in question were more likely to spend more time on activities requiring efforts of moderate intensity. In addition, the group created an overall impression of insufficient activity. Understandably, the validity of these observations is also limited by their duration. No specific measurements were done regarding the amount of activity in each group, and no noticeable difference was observed. Thus, it is possible to conclude that no significant deviation was identified in the physical behavior of different age groups.
The cognitive behavior of subjects from both groups was generally consistent with that of the general population. The subjects demonstrated no difficulties in accomplishing routine tasks. In addition, no avoidance of engaging in problem-solving activities was indicated among the representatives of the two groups. This observation is the most significant deviation from the expected outcome based on the current understanding of the issue. According to the consensus, people with disabilities are more likely to experience challenges in the learning domain and, as a result, have less capacity for decision-making.
The described effect can be attributed to the environmental factors related to abnormal behavior, specifically the familiarity of the environment, which may have a positive effect. In both cases, the observation was performed in a setting to which the subjects were highly accustomed. This factor, combined with the availability of peer support, could have an encouraging effect that improved cognitive capacity in the group.
Finally, it is necessary to recognize the socioemotional aspect of the observed interactions. In the adolescent group, social interactions were generally consistent with those expected to occur within the general population. No explicit indications of depression and anxiety were observed among its representatives. The subjects engaged in conversations and showed no substantial deviations from socially acceptable protocols. No aggression or signs of social isolation were identified.
The majority of participants demonstrated sufficient communication and interaction skills and generally responded appropriately to social clues. However, on two occasions the subjects demonstrated emotional instability by reacting to comments in an aggressive manner. This reaction can be attributed to the stress experienced by the subjects on a daily basis, which is typical for individuals with disabilities.
The results of the observation indicate the possibility of abnormalities in subjects. For instance, one of the representatives of the first group clarified the oral information despite the absence of distractions and auditory barriers. Thus, it is possible to suggest an auditory processing disorder as the likely cause of the issue and provide a professional referral to an audiologist and, possibly, an educational advisor.
Another abnormal behavior observed in the adolescent group was the tendency of one of the subjects to bite her finger, most likely after encountering a difficult task. The behavior was clearly deliberate, conscious, and in both cases occurred during the assignment. This behavior can be an indication of self-injury in response to aggression towards oneself. Therefore, a referral to a professional aggression treatment program can be recommended to facilitate optimal development over the lifespan.
Finally, the aggressive behavior of two participants from the adult group can be considered an example of abnormal behavior. It is important to note that the duration of the event was insufficient for reaching a definitive conclusion and that aggressive outbursts do not occur systematically, in which case no intervention may be needed. However, once the issue is identified as recurring, a professional referral to an aggression treatment group or organization.
Adults with learning disabilities can be referred to the Learning Disabilities Association of Alabama, a non-profit organization that offers guidance and support to impacted individuals and their families (Learning Disabilities Association of America, n.d.).
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Next, both adults and children with LD can be referred to Alabama Adult Siblings Investing in our Brothers and Sisters support group (AL-ASIBS), a community organization that provides support and to siblings of the impacted individuals and equips them with relevant strategies (Sibling Leadership Network, n.d.).
The Alabama Council on Developmental Disabilities can be recommended to support advocacy and productivity of adults with developmental disabilities and organizes events for impacted individuals and their families (Alabama Council on Developmental Disabilities, n.d.).
Project Rebound is a community organization that offers counseling services to individuals impacted by disasters and similar trauma-causing events (the University of Alabama, n.d.).
Alabama Council on Developmental Disabilities. (n.d.). About us. Web.
Learning Disabilities Association of America. (n.d.). LDA of Alabama. Web.
Sibling Leadership Network. (n.d.). State chapters. Web.
University of Alabama. (n.d.). Project Rebound. Web.