Social Emotional Learning for Students with Learning Disabilities: School-based Interventions for Improving the Lifetime Trajectory of our Most Vulnerable Learners
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Learning disabilities (LD) affect the cognitive processes in individuals with average to above average intellectual capacity and can impact their success in educational settings and beyond. Scholars have been examining the relationship between LDs and social-emotional functioning for several decades, consistently finding an increased likelihood of negative mental health outcomes and poorer overall functioning in individuals with LDs. While significant research has demonstrated the efficacy of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) educational programs and practices in supporting the mental well-being of students in general, very little research has been done on examining its efficacy in specifically supporting students with LDs. This study examines literature on the life-long impact of LD, the social-emotional profile of students with LD, and the efficacy of SEL interventions for students with and without LDs, with the purpose of determining appropriate interventions for supporting the healthy social emotional development of children and youth with LD. The results of the analyses indicate that strengths-based approaches including Universal Design for Learning strategies at the Tier 1 level and small group SEL interventions at the Tier 2 level, as well as teacher education are recommended. Specific recommendations for all levels of educators, from classroom teacher to government policy makers are noted.