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  • Writer's pictureSepideh Homayoonfar Psy.D

The Link Between Anxiety and Learning Disorders

Before and after a learning disability is diagnosed, a child or adolescent may experience anxiety in varying forms. Before a diagnosis a child may constantly feel the need to worry, and deal with challenges of expressing what they are feeling. After a diagnosis the child may feel that they are out of place, and become concerned with “fitting in” with their peers. These anxieties are not uncommon, but need to be addressed by a practitioner.

There are numerous factors that determine whether a child with a learning disability will deal with issues of anxiety. These factors can range from predisposition due to genetics, the age of the child at diagnosis, or directly relating to the disability.

Anxiety can come in many forms, each having their own sets of symptoms. It is particularly prevalent in lower grade school when reading readiness is being introduced. A child may find it difficult to keep up or comprehend and get frustrated, triggering the anxiousness. A parent may find that their child has unrealistic worries, social anxiety and/or an overwhelming fear of being embarrassed.

The three types of anxiety disorders that are most commonly associated with Learning Disabilities include:

GAD- Generalized Anxiety Disorder: when a child worries constantly about things in their everyday lives. This could include school, after-school activities, social gatherings or performances of any type. These fears are usually extreme and are blown out of proportion. Other symptoms can include physical signs such as extreme exhaustion, headaches, stomachaches and irritability

Social Anxiety Disorder-(Social Phobia): when a child suffers from an excessive self consciousness to the point of not wanting to communicate at all in fear or saying or doing the wrong thing. They are deeply worried they will be humiliated or judged. This can start at a young age and follow a child into adolescence. Younger children can exhibit behavior such as tantrums and crying fits which is sometimes a cause for misdiagnosis for oppositional behavior.

OCD- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: when a child is unable to control their impulses or thoughts that become obsessive in nature. The child will attempt to cope by performing certain compulsions (repeated behavior) such as doing things in a very specific order, frequent hand washing, and locking and unlocking doors numerous times. They may also suffer from irrational fears of becoming sick or being contaminated and commonly require reassurance for future events.

A clinical child psychologist can be helpful by properly evaluating and diagnosing the child, and creating a personalized comprehensive plan of action for child, parents and teachers.

Call Dr. Homayoonfar at 516-484-1200 or visit our website at to book your free phone consultation now!

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