The following three chapters focus on varying aspects of social factors in learning disabilities. Vaughan, Hogan, and Kouzekanani’s chapter addresses the predictive power of social status for subsequent diagnosis of learning disabilities. Pearl and Bryan relate learning disabled adolescents’ social cognitive skills to the likelihood of crime victimization. Robert Thompson presents research on linkage of diagnostic states, including learning disabilities, to various forms of psychopathology. The divergence of topics and interests across these chapters is clear, but perhaps more striking is that the social and emotional life of the learning disabled youngster is now part and parcel of scholarly life in the field of learning disabilities. Indeed the wedding of interest in the social/emotional conditions of children to children with academic problems and alleged conditions of brain dysfunction now has been consummated. To some the wedding may seem surprising insofar as the concept of learning disabilities was generated from the medical, not the psychological community, and the original definitions of learning disabilities did not mention that such children might suffer the slings and arrows of social and personal misfortune. On the other hand, the wedding may have been a shot gun variety; a necessity driven by the demands of reality. That a divorce is unlikely is suggested by the fact that the two most recent definitions of learning disabilities include references to social problems as a possible distinguishing feature. The definition adopted by the Association for Children and Adults with Learning Disabilities (ACLD, 1985) includes the statement that: “ Throughout life the condition can affect self-esteem, education, vocation, so-
THE WEDDING OF SOCIAL FACTORS AND LEARNING DISABILITIES
cialization, and/or daily living activities” (Special Education Today, 1985, p. 1). Even more recently, in a mandated report to the Congress, the Interagency Committee on Learning Disabilities (1987) submitted a revised definition that included the statement: “ Learning disabilities is a generic term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifest by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities, or o f social skills (italics in original, p. 222).