Has there been any research specifically exploring the effects of mindfulness practice on youth with LDs? What were the conclusions? Which studies were conducted in a school setting?
Answered by Stéphanie Bergevin, PhD, psychologist for the Commission scolaire Chemin-du-Roy and psychology PhD student at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières.
“An operational working definition of mindfulness is: the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment. (Kabat-Zinn, 2003)"
Approaches drawing on mindfulness have become increasingly popular over the last few years. Considering the benefits observed, particularly in relation to reduced stress and anxiety in adults, researchers have become interested in the application of such approaches with children and adolescents.
The first studies completed with young people confirmed the feasibility of mindfulness programs with this population (Burke, 2010). Researchers then became interested in the application of this approach in school settings or with specific clientele, such as school-aged students with learning disabilities (LDs).
The results of preliminary studies suggest a significant improvement in executive functioning, with even greater improvement for those who initially presented difficulties in this area (Flook et al, 2010). These results support the idea of implementing mindfulness programs for individuals with LDs.
One pilot study completed in a school setting among adolescents with LDs revealed a significant reduction of anxiety and improvement of social skills as well as academic performance, following the implementation of meditation sessions over five weeks (Beauchemin et al, 2008).
Another recent study investigated the implementation of a mindfulness program for adolescents with LDs, ADHD, and anxiety (Haydicky et al., 2012). In summary, the results demonstrated a reduction of externalised behaviours, oppositional and behavioural difficulties, anxiety, and social problems in boys who initially presented an elevated level of anxiety compared to a control group.
Research in school settings, specifically relating to students with LDs, is still only in the beginning stages. The results available to date are promising; however, further research is necessary to gain a better picture.
Related Resources on the LD@school Website
Beauchemin, J., Hutchkins, T.L., et Patterson, F. (2008). « Mindfulness meditation may lessen anxiety, promote social skills, and improve academic performance among adolescents with learning disabilities », Complementary Health Practice Review, 13, p. 34-45.
Burke, C.S. (2010). « Mindfulness-based approaches with children and adolescents: A preliminary review of current research in an emergent field », Journal of Child and Family Studies, 19, p. 133-144.
Flook, L., Smalley, S.L., Kitil, M.J., Galla, B, M., Kaiser-Greenland, S., et coll. (2010). Effects of mindful awareness practices on executive function in elementary school children, Journal of Applied School Psychology, 26, p. 70-95.
Haydicky, J., Wiener, J., Badali, P., Milligan, K., et Ducharme, J.M. (2012). Evaluation of a mindfulness-based intervention for adolescents with learning disabilities and co-occurring ADHD and anxiety, Mindfulness, 3, p. 151-164
Haydicky, J., Wiener, J. (2014). Promouvoir la compétence socio-affective par la pleine conscience. TA@l’école. Récupéré le 12 décembre 2016 de : https://www.taalecole.ca/bien-etre/promouvoir-la-competence-socio-affective-par-la-pleine-conscience/
Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-based interventions in context: Past, present, and future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10(2), 144-156.
Stéphanie Bergevin, PhD, psychologist for the Commission scolaire Chemin-du-Roy and psychology PhD student at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières.
Stéphanie Bergevin holds a PhD in clinical psychology. She works as a psychologist for the Commission scolaire Chemin du Roy in Trois-Rivières, Québec. Her clinical approach is integrative and based, among other things, on third-wave cognitive and behavioural therapies, mindfulness, and clinical hypnosis. She worked as a researcher for the Chaire de Recherche Normand Maurice, Qisaq team, and now she is completing her PhD in research psychology at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. Her research interests relate to spirituality and stress in children and youth.