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J Youth Adolesc. 2012 Oct;41(10):1294-311. doi: 10.1007/s10964-012-9767-6. Epub 2012 Apr 21.

Adolescents with learning disabilities: socioemotional and behavioral functioning and attachment relationships with fathers, mothers, and teachers.

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Special Education Program, Constantiner School of Education, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, 69978, Israel.


Investigation of the role of adolescents' patterns of close relationships with significant adults may be of particular interest in populations with learning disabilities ("LD") during adolescence, because attachment relationship variables may act as risk or protective factors during this developmental period when trajectories are set that can lead to difficulties in adulthood. Specifically, this study examined a model of protective factors comprising patterns of close relationships between adolescents (n=369; 53 % female; aged 15-17) and significant adults (mother, father, homeroom teacher) for explaining adolescents' socioemotional and behavioral adjustment, comparing adolescents with and without LD. The current assessment of adolescents' socioemotional adjustment included both internalizing aspects (loneliness, affect, and internalizing behavior syndrome) and externalizing aspects (externalizing behavior syndrome). On most measures, significant group differences emerged between adolescents with LD (n=181) and adolescents with typical development (n=188). SEM analysis found high fit between the theoretical model and empirical findings. Both groups showed similar paths between adolescent-mother attachment and adolescent adjustment, whereas significant group differences emerged for the contribution of adolescents' close relationships with fathers and teachers to adolescents' adjustment. The discussion focuses on the possible unique value of close relationships with each attachment figure at home and at school for adolescents with LD versus typical development.

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