Transitioning from high school to university can be a big adjustment for any student, but for those with learning disabilities, misconceptions and stigma can add to the challenges.
Research from Child and Youth Studies PhD student Emma Peddigrew (MA ’21) recently gave voice to first-year students with learning disabilities in the Brock community. In February 2020, she conducted in-person interviews for her master’s thesis under the supervision of Professor John McNamara, focusing on emotional and social impacts of learning disabilities in the transition to first year.
“Almost all of the participants said there were misconceptions about what their diagnosis actually meant, not only for them, but also for the people around them,” Peddigrew says. “Even close family members didn’t fully understand what a learning disability meant, so students were trying to navigate how to communicate their needs to those around them.”
Peddigrew observed significant issues around self-esteem and mental health concerns, as well as high pressure from loved ones to succeed.