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Learning Disabilities and Positive Psychology

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1 Learning Disabilities and Positive Psychology
Sherilyn Groeninger Hunter College SPED 707

2 Agenda Characteristics of LD Effects of LD in students
What is Positive Psychology? Positive Psychology in Academic Setting Grant Proposal References

3 Learning Disabilities
Neurobiological disability in one or more of the processes in understanding or using language May manifest itself in a person’s inability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do math 17% of students receiving special education have a learning disability (Learning Disabilities Association of New York City, 2012)

4 Previous LD Interventions
Students and teachers should work together to find ways to sort different information, use humor or exaggeration in learning, use visual aids, explore all the senses, and make learning fun (Hoover 2009) Accommodations may include differentiated presentation of lessons or materials, different response mechanisms, or time modifications (NCLD 2006)

5 Effects of LD on Students
Feurer and Andrews (2009) found that students with LD reported higher levels of academic stress than students without LD Learned helplessness occurs when a student experiences repeated failure and, in turn, expects continued failure and loses motivation. Some studies have shown that the mere diagnosis of a learning disability will increase the likelihood of helplessness, lowered expectations, and lower self-esteem (Valas 2001).

6 Depression in Students with LD
Research also indicated that there are significant and positive correlations between school-related stress and depression (Feurer and Andrews 2009) Other reports have suggested that students with LD convey higher reports of depressive symptoms than students without LD (Nelson & Harwood 2011) A relationship was also found between students who display low academic competence in first grade and students with depressive symptoms in seventh grade (Herman 2008) Students with LD who seek normative-based standards have been found to be more inclined towards depression when there is a risk of failure or negative outcome (Sideridis 2007).

7 What Students Need There is a need for schools to serve as support systems to children. Herman et. al. (2009) call for schools to promote positive mental health in their students in order to prevent any psychological problems in children Goals of early intervention should expand beyond the prevention of problems to include the promotion of well-being (Park & Peterson 2003).

8 Positive Psychology The movement toward positive psychology began with the ideas of Martin Seligman and his call to shift psychology’s concern with prevention and cure to an emphasis on human strengths and virtues. (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi 2000). Strategies of positive psychology used in counseling and rehabilitation therapy Strategies include a person coming up with at least three good things about themselves or use the ‘ABCDE’ approach to help clients restructure irrational, negative beliefs into more positive thoughts and behaviors (Chapin & Boykin 2010). Positive Psychology Video

9 Using Positive Psychology in Treating Depression
Methods of cultivating positive feelings and behaviors significantly enhance well-being as well as decrease depressive symptoms (Sin & Lyubomirsky 2009) A related study used the positive psychology techniques of “Three Good Things” and “Using Your Signature Strengths in a New Way” to determine whether positive psychology affects depression and happiness. Results of this study indicated that positive psychology exercises led to increases in happiness (Mongrain & Anselmo-Matthews 2012)

10 Positive Psychology in Schools
Research has indicated that skills that increase resilience, positive emotion, engagement, and meaning should be taught to children in the academic setting (Seligman et al 2009) Positive feedback and public posting of student accomplishments are just two of the many ways to promote a positive psychological environment (Jenson et al. 2004). In an article from U.S. News and World Report by Lindsay Lyon, psychologists Karen Reivich and Jane Gillham found that building resilience in younger children through positive psychology can help prevent depression before it begins (2009).

11 The Penn Resiliency Program
Utilizes the components of Positive Psychology in order to train both students and teachers on how to integrate themes of resilience and optimism into the curriculum (PRP 2012). Program consists of several lessons where resilience concepts and skills are taught through skits, role-plays, short stories, or cartoons, and in turn, taught to the students. PRP also teaches strategies for students to use for problem-solving and coping with difficult situations and emotions

12 Grant Proposal PS 023- roughly 190 out of 530 students receive special education services Professional Development on how to integrate Positive Psychology in the classroom A trained representative from the Penn Resiliency Program would hold the workshop for the teachers during the summer before the school year starts Three day workshop consisting of 12 mini lessons Goal is to instruct special education teachers on how to bring out the strengths of students and teach the children how to generate positive alternatives for themselves in their individual lives

13 References Chapin, M. H., & Boykin, R. B. (2010). Integrating Positive Psychology Techniques into Rehabilitation Counselor Education. Rehabilitation Education, 24(1-2), Feurer, D., & Andrews, J. W. (2009). School-Related Stress and Depression in Adolescents With and Without Learning Disabilities: An Exploratory Study. Alberta Journal Of Educational Research, 55(1), Herman, K. C., Lambert, S. F., Reinke, W. M., & Ialongo, N. S. (2008). Low Academic Competence in First Grade as a Risk Factor for Depressive Cognitions and Symptoms in Middle School. Journal Of Counseling Psychology, 55(3), Herman, K. C., Reinke, W. M., Parkin, J., Traylor, K. B., & Agarwal, G. (2009). Childhood depression: rethinking the role of the school. Psychology In The Schools, 46 (5), Hoover, A. (2009). Memory tips for students. Retrieved from Jenson, W. R., Olympia, D., Farley, M., & Clark, E. (2004). Positive Psychology and Externalizing Students in a Sea of Negativity. Psychology In The Schools, 41(1), Learning Disabilities Association: New York City. (2012). How many people have learning disabilities? Retrieved from Lyon, Lindsay. (2009). Positive Psychology for Kids: Teaching Resilience With Positive Education. US news and world report. Retrieved from Molony, T., & Henwood, M. (2010). Signature Strengths in Positive Psychology. Communique, 38(8),

14 References Continued Mongrain, M., & Anselmo-Matthews, T. (2012). Do Positive Psychology Exercises Work? A Replication of Seligman et al. Journal Of Clinical Psychology, 68(4), NCLD. (2006). Accomodations for students with ld. Retrieved from NCLD Editorial Team. (2012). Learning Disability Fast Facts. Retrieved from Nelson, J. M., & Harwood, H. R. (2011). A Meta-Analysis of Parent and Teacher Reports of Depression among Students with Learning Disabilities: Evidence for the Importance of Multi-Informant Assessment. Psychology In The Schools, 48(4), New York City Department of Education School demographics and accountability snapshot. Retrieved from Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2003). Early Intervention from the Perspective of Positive Psychology. Prevention & Treatment, 6(1), 35c. Positive Psychology Center. (2007). Retrieved from Seligman, M. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5-14. Seligman, M. P., Ernst, R. M., Gillham, J., Reivich, K., & Linkins, M. (2009). Positive education: positive psychology and classroom interventions. Oxford Review Of Education, 35(3), Sideridis, G. D. (2007). Why are students with LD depressed? A goal orientation model of depression vulnerability. Journal Of Learning Disabilities, 40(6), Sin, N. L., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2009). Enhancing well-being and alleviating depressive symptoms with positive psychology interventions: A practice-friendly meta-analysis. Journal Of Clinical Psychology, 65(5), Valås, H. (2001). Learned Helplessness and Psychological Adjustment II: Effects of learning disabilities and low achievement. Scandinavian Journal Of Educational Research, 45(2),

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