Interpersonal Understanding of Students with LD

By: Shlomo Kravetz, Miriam Faust, Shahar Lipshitz, and Shlomo Shalhav

The study and results

A learning disability could directly cause social problems through misperceptions or limit opportunities to build social experiences and cause social problems more indirectly. Social skills in this study was defined as social problem-solving, perspective-taking measured with open-ended clinical stories requiring oral responses to questions. The oral responses of 22 boys with LD and 22 boys without LD from the 4th and 5th grade of a middle class elementary school in Jerusalem were rated and compared with teacher ratings of social adaptation. LD students were defined as performing 2 years below grade level, average or above intelligence, not having severe behavior or attention problems, and living in Israel for more than 4 years.

The results showed:

  1. Students with LD were rated as less socially adaptive in classroom behavior than non LD
  2. Students with LD showed lower interpersonal understanding based on oral responses to social problems
  3. Social adaptation ratings and social understanding showed a positive correlation
  4. Adjusting for interpersonal understanding reduced differences in social adaptation, in the expected direction, but not significantly.

Notes: The interpersonal understanding task required verbal skills and may not be a fair test for students with impaired linguistic ability. The small sample and having only boys may not represent a general level of functioning on a single test representing a complex social skill.

Bottom line

Social misconduct and misperceptions may be due at least in part to an individual’s learning disability. Other factors, self-esteem, social isolation, may also be at work, but deficient social understanding may account for some of the classroom behavior and social problems faced by children with LD.

Originally published in: Kravetz, S. , Faust, M. , Lipshitz, S. and Shalhav, S. (1999). Journal of Learning Disabilities, 32, pp 248-255.