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1. Success in college and the workplace is heavily influenced by internal resilience factors such as temperament and self-perception.

As noted earlier in this report, individuals with learning and attention issues are as smart as their peers and, with the right support, can achieve at high levels.

But low self-esteem and low expectations help explain why young adults with learning disabilities^ attend four-year colleges at half the rate of the general population and why those who do attend college are less likely to complete it.1 Challenges related to self-determination also help explain why adults with learning disabilities are more likely to have semi-skilled part-time jobs2—or to have left the workforce completely—than their peers without learning disabilities.3

Researchers are learning more about how resilience can help individuals with learning and attention issues persist and succeed in college or the workplace.4 Characteristics of resilience include:

  • Having a positive temperament
  • Recognizing that a disability is not something you “grow out” of
  • Identifying and using accommodations^ and strategies
  • Knowing how to self-advocate in school or at work

External influences such as family members, educators and community groups can have a significant impact on individuals with learning and attention issues as they make decisions related to school or work. When students struggle academically or socially, research indicates that having a supportive parent, mentor or other caring adult is one of the strongest protective factors that help them remain resilient.

One way schools and communities can help shape students’ self-image is by emphasizing their strengths instead of just focusing on their weaknesses. More research is needed in this area, but helping students believe in themselves may be as important as making them aware of available resources and how to access them.