Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 351–358 | Cite as

Understanding Resilience in Learning Difficulties: Unheard Voices of Secondary School Students

  • Sigrún HarðardóttirEmail author
  • Sigrún Júlíusdóttir
  • Halldór S. Guðmundsson


This article presents part of the results from the research project of learning disabilities (LD) and success in school. The study investigates the interplay between psychosocial wellbeing and study progress and what works to support and empower students at-risk of school failure and dropout. It entails a group of 270 students in Iceland, all born in 1989, 1990 and 1991. At the beginning of their studies they completed the Youth Self Report. Four and a half years later contact was made with the students participating in the research, to attain information regarding their study progress. The results show that large number of students, or 72 %, who began their learning on an academic study track, had completed their studies at upper secondary school, but only 16 % of students who were at-risk of school failure and began their learning on general study track. Ten students with specific LD who began their learning on general track study, and had performed well in their studies and finished upper secondary education, were selected to take part in qualitative interviews. This article presents that part of the research. The school experience was explored from their perspectives regarding what they considered helpful versus obstructing in their learning situation. Three main themes were identified: (a) struggles regarding problem defining, (b) labelling and stigma, (c) support from a caring person in developing selfworth and resilience. This article offers guidelines to help parents and schools to better support students with LD.


Learning disabilities Risk and resilience YSR Support from parents and teachers School social work 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sigrún Harðardóttir
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sigrún Júlíusdóttir
    • 1
  • Halldór S. Guðmundsson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Social Work, Faculty of Social SciencesUniversity of IcelandReykjavíkIceland

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