Coping with school stress: A comparison of adolescents with and without learning disabilities

Cheryl Geisthardt, Joyce Munsch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The experience of school-related stress during the transition to junior high school is compared in a sample of 59 students with learning disabilities (27 females, 32 males) and 402 students without learning disabilities (241 females, 161 males). Using a checklist of 11 stressful school events, the authors found that adolescents with learning disabilities were more likely to report that they had failed a class and less likely to report they had been chosen for a school activity than their non-learning disabled peers. However, the two groups of students did not differ in their perceived stressfulness of any of the pertinent school events. Students with learning disabilities reported relying on cognitive avoidance as a coping strategy more heavily than did non-learning disabled students when coping with an academic stress event, and reported that they mobilized fewer peers for social support when dealing with an academic stressor or with an interpersonal problem. The implications of these differences for the students' well-being are discussed. It is also suggested that school policies need to be examined for their impact on the opportunity for students with special needs to form supportive peer relations within the school environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-296
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Learning Disabilities
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1996


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