Special Needs Kids Need Love Too

Depression and anxiety higher in kids with physical or social problems

(RxWiki News) Being bullied or left out can make any kid sad, but for kids who already have to deal with health problems, the lack of social support can really take an emotional toll.

New research suggests that social ostracism greatly contributes to depression and anxiety in teens with special needs.

Being left out and bullied accounted for 37 percent of depression according to the self-reports and 44 percent of depression according to the parents’ reports.

"Talk to your child’s school therapist about awareness programs."

Dr. Ellis McKenna MD., Senior Fellow in developmental-behavioral pediatrics at Medical University of South Carolina, wanted to know about the emotional states of kids with physical or mental illness.

Dr. McKenna states, “What is notable about these findings is that despite all the many challenges these children face in relation to their chronic medical or developmental diagnosis, being bullied or excluded by their peers were the factors most likely to predict whether or not they reported symptoms of depression.”

109 kids between the ages of 8-17 and their parents were asked to participate in a survey. Each of the kids that were approached was visiting the hospital for a regular doctor’s appointment when they were approached to take the survey and were also assessed for bullying and exclusion from peer groups.

The kids were pulled from different departments in the hospital to represent: 39 percent with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, 22 percent with cystic fibrosis, 19 percent with type 1 or 2 diabetes, 11 percent with sickle cell disease, 11 percent with obesity, 11 percent with a learning disability, 9 percent with autism spectrum disorder, and 6 percent with short stature. It’s notable that several of the kids did have more than one of these health problems.

The findings from this study could lay the foundation for school and community programs that encourage acceptance and inclusion for all students and activities that don’t exclude kids with special needs.

This study will be presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) in Boston April 28 – May 1, 2012.

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Review Date: 
May 3, 2012