Academic journal article Cognitie, Creier, Comportament

Subjective Wellbeing in Students with Special Educational Needs

Academic journal article Cognitie, Creier, Comportament

Subjective Wellbeing in Students with Special Educational Needs

Article excerpt

Children and adolescents with Special Educational Needs (SEN) frequently present deficits in important functioning domains, which represents additional challenges for adaptive trajectories and positive functioning. In fact, difficulties on cognitive abilities, interpersonal functioning, communication, autonomy, and behavior control are prevalent features in children and adolescents with different Special Educational Needs.

Cognitive deficits (e.g. poor reasoning, executive functions) are a prevailing characteristic in many conditions, such as Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity (Schoechlin & Engel, 2005), Intellectual and Developmental Disability (Santos, 2010) hearing impairment (Halliwell, 2003) and neuromotor impairment (Rosenbaum, Paneth, Leviton, Goldstein, & Bax, 2007). Communication and language are significantly affected by developmental disorders (Gouveia, Alves, & Teixeira, 2008) and hearing impairment (Lieu, 2004). Behavior control (accomplishment of social rules, inhibition and behavior regulation) is impaired in individuals presenting different Special Educational Needs, including intellectual disability (Schalock, Keith, Verdugo, & Gomez, 2010), Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (DuPaul, Carson, Gormley, Junod, & Flammer-Rivere, 2012) and hearing impairment (Lieu, 2004). Deficits in different functioning domains result in lack of autonomy, which is a prevalent feature in individuals presenting different Special Educational Needs (Eriksson, Welander, & Granlund, 2007), such as visual impairment (Stelmack, 2001) hearing impairment (Halliwell, 2003), intellectual disability (Santos, 2010), neuromotor impairment (Ghedini, Mancini, & Brandão, 2010; Schenker, Coster, & Parush, 2005) or Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (Loe & Feldman, 2007).

Cognitive functions, communication and language, behavior control and autonomy domains significantly, cumulatively and reciprocally interact between them and influence other functioning domains (Masten, Burt, & Coatsworth, 2006). Deficits in such domains, place students with Special Educational Needs at increased risk for development of maladaptive functioning trajectories, and are involved in cascades of developmental inequalities (Krahn, Hammons, & Turner, 2006). Maladaptive trajectories are routed in individuals early functioning, which tends to be affected and shaped by experiences at several levels. Deficits presented by children with Special Educational Needs place them at increased risk also for receiving negative feedback about their competence, relatedness and autonomy which are basic psychological needs involved in positive functioning (Deci & Ryan, 2002; Ryan & Deci, 2000). Therefore, a central issue in intervention with children and adolescents presenting Special Educational Needs is the understanding of their subjective wellbeing, in its several dimensions.

Wellbeing as an indicator of positive functioning

Wellbeing is conceptualized under different approaches (e.g., Hedonic vs Eudaimonic). This two philosophical roots lead, however, to different concepts of wellbeing: subjective wellbeing and psychological wellbeing. Subjective wellbeing is different from psychological wellbeing as its' philosophical foundations are hedonic perspectives, while psychological wellbeing is founded in eudaimonic perspectives (Lent, 2004). Also, subjective well-being includes life satisfaction, positive and negative affect (Diener, 1984) while psychological wellbeing includes six dimensions: i) self-acceptance: ii) personal growth; iii) purpose in life; iv) autonomy; v) environmental mastery; and, vi) positive relations with others (Ryff & Keyes, 1995).

Currently, there is a growing consensus that subjective wellbeing is a multidimensional phenomenon, which means that a full understanding of people's subjective experiences requires the assessment of the different dimensions instead of a measure of a specific aspect of life (Diener, 1984). …

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