(dailyRx News) Kids with special needs are struggling in the classroom far more than their peers. Kids with special needs feel more isolated, are the victims of bullying at far greater rates and are less motivated to do well academically.
One-third of schoolchildren today have some form of special healthcare needs, from behavioral and learning disabilities to physical health challenges.
One out of every three school-age child struggles with a special need such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, asthma, chronic pain, or emotional or behavioral problems.
Christopher Forrest, MD, and a team of researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia examined the link between these types of special needs and school performance - both academic achievement as well as socialization and engagement.
The team looked at data from 1457 children from 34 different schools, in grades four through six, whose parents completed a "Children With Special Health Care Needs" screener.
Of the 33 percent of children who screened positive for special needs, all experienced significantly lower academic achievement, as well as more disruptive behavior in school and more frequent experiences with being bullied.
Children with ADHD performed more poorly on standardized testing and made lower grades than their peers. However, as the researchers point out, the quality of a child's school experience is about much more than grades.
Feeling alone, ostracized and bullied by other children affects not only academic performance, but psychological and behavioral outcomes as well. The study found that boys were twice as likely to have special needs as girls.
Forrest concluded that children with special health care needs are at increased risk for poor school outcomes, and that school and health professionals need to collaborate to identify and intervene with these children.
"There is little dispute among education and healthcare leaders that the health of children and their school performance are dynamically intertwined," the report states.
The findings were published in the July issue of the journal Pediatrics.