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Among the significant percentage of people in the world suffering from various disabilities are adolescents in secondary schools, post-secondary institutions and colleges as well as those in employment. Two of the major disabilities affecting students are: learning disability and behaviour disability.
Grenwelge, Zhang and Landmark (2010), defines leaning disability as inability of one of the primary or learning processes such as writing, spelling and reading is not functioning as effectively as it is supposed to. On the other hand, emotional or behavioural disability has been defined as a condition characterized by extreme emotional change leading to persistent behavioural change.
These two conditions can adversely affect educational performance amongst the students, as well as career performance for the employed adolescents. A learning disability for example causes young children difficulty in achieving success in education, despite the fact that they can perform some tasks very effectively.
This study explores the difficulties experienced by young adolescents with the two disabilities defined above, with the aim of coming up with effective strategies make the situation better for them. This literature review separately focuses on the two categorical difficulties faced by the young adolescents: negative outcome of graduation and negative outcome in employment (Al-Yagon, 2011).
Graduation Negative Outcomes
According to Hamzah, Subramaniam and Abdullah (2009), statistics indicate that in 2003 alone, there was a 10% high school dropout in the US, a larger portion of which was made up of students with disabilities. This is an indication that a large percentage of students with behavioural and learning disability do not get to graduate from high school. There are a number of factors that lead to this.
One of the causes of high school dropout of this group of students is the feeling of being out of place (Kemp, 2006). Students with learning and behavioural disability give up easily on high school education because they may feel that no one is there for them to identify with them and care for them.
Most of the time they could be secure knowing that there is an elderly person to help them in making decisions when they cannot make them on their own. For example, learning disability is believed to be as a result of the inability of the nervous system to coordinate properly.
This causes a challenge in reception, processing and communication of basic information. This means that sometimes students suffering this disability cannot make important decisions that affect their future, thus they need someone to look up to during such moments.
Secondly, students with such disabilities are prone to be involved in risky behavior. According to Mihandoost (2011), students having learning disability may choose to be involved in risky behaviour in order to substitute the thought of being “stupid” with being “bad”. The result of such behaviour is suspension from school or poor academic performance, eventually resulting in failure to graduate.
Poor academic performance especially for students with learning disabilities may result from lack of consistence in their knowledge. For example, a learning disability student may read and comprehend a topic well, but fail to do an examination on the same topic because that student cannot write what he knows. The end result is that this student won’t be able to graduate because he couldn’t pass his examinations (Kemp, 2006).
Just like other students, learning and behavioural disability students undergo a lot of stress in life. Unlike other students, the students with these disabilities cannot withstand that much stress. This is why they reach a point where they disregard the value of post-secondary education in their future. The result of this is that they drop out and they don’t get to graduate (Sinclair, Christenson, & Thurlow, 2005).
Self-esteem is important in the academic performance of any student. There is a tendency of disabled students to lose their self-esteem when they face frustrations from themselves and from the surrounding people. This group of students will work so hard to achieve certain goals, but they are emotionally battered when they don’t achieve the goals. This leads to a rise in frustration and an eventual loss of interest in academics (Horowitz, 2009).
Another factor that affects the graduation of students with disabilities is the lack of proper accommodation in schools. According to Reschly and Christenson (2006), research has shown that colleges and universities are increasing the efforts to provide necessary facilities to accommodate students with disabilities. Despite these effort, statistics carried out by NCES indicated that 20% of students in colleges who admitted to be having learning disabilities claimed that they were not receiving proper accommodation in their studies.
Research has sadly shown that these students are made to feel out of place by some institutions. These are institutions which view students with disabilities as a cause of distractions for other “normal” students, thus the institutions have no place for such students. To make the situation even worse, sometimes the society does not think that these young people have any need for education; hence they don’t bother to support them in education. This leads to dropout before they graduate (Sin, Francis, & Cook, 2010).
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Unemployment Negative Outcomes
The challenges experienced by young adolescents with learning and behavioural disabilities do not stop at the learning level. Even those who manage to graduate despite the many hindrances still face difficulty in the job market as a result of their disability.
The challenges experienced in institutions of learning have a direct impact on the performance of young disabled people in different careers. Most of these people enter the job market with insufficient skills attained at the post-secondary institutions. This puts them in a very stiff position where they cannot compete favourably with others in the job market. The outcome is that they end up missing the positions of employment (Groce, 2004).
According to George and Kidd (2011), some companies become hesitant to hire disabled people due to social prejudice as well as lack of confidence in their ability. Therefore, they rarely employ these people.
Another cause of unemployment among young people with learning and behavioural disabilities is limitation in skills. Due to lack of proper coordination, this group of people has a limited choice of career, leading to limited skills. This makes it very hard and takes them very long to find relevant employment in their training field (Nind, Flewitt, & Payler, 2010).
According to the research conducted by Lehr and Lange (2003), some of the employees with learning and behavioural disabilities admit that their disability hampers them from using the most recent, common and effective technologies in their organizations. These employees are at a risk of being laid off their job for others who can use such technologies.
Others disabled employees simply quit their jobs because they cannot cope with the conditions in these places in terms of accommodation for the workers with such disabilities. More research needs to be conducted to explore ways in which such organizations can come up with proper accommodation for workers with disabilities (Mallett, Stoddard-Dare, & Workman-Crewnshaw, 2011).
The same research also shows that most of the young employees who have learning, behavioural and other disabilities choose to hide these disabilities from their employers and workmates. The major reason for making this choice is fear of stigmatization discrimination in the work place.
The research also indicates that the employees choose to hide the disabilities because there is a possibility that the employers will monitor them more closely with the anticipation of a mistake in their work, which makes it hard for them to cope as well as to avoid being fired (Maehler, & Schuchardt, 2011).
Finally, the study of Repetto et al. (2010), indicates that most of the people with learning disability at the job market cope with the conditions depending on their past experiences in secondary and post-secondary institutions. These experiences include self-esteem level, treatment by others as well as the academic skills obtained.
It can be concluded that there are many challenges that young adolescents with learning and behavioural disabilities face, both in attaining graduation and in search of employment. In line with the National Council on Disability (2004), there is a need to increase effort to ensure that many students in this disability group not only graduate, but also find comfortable employment. Further research is therefore necessary to explore ways in which these conditions can be improved.
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Sin, C., Francis, R., & Cook, C. (2010). Access to and experience of child and adolescent mental health services: barriers to children and young people with learning disabilities and their families. Mental Health Review Journal, 15(1), 20-28.
Sinclair, M., Christenson, S., & Thurlow, M. (2005). Promoting School Completion of Urban Secondary Youth with Emotional or Behavioral Disabilities. Exceptional Children, 71(4), 465-482.