Perceptions of social support among male and female students with specific learning disabilities and in general education
Previous research has recognized the significant relationship between perceived social support and resiliency in children and adolescents without disabilities, but less is known about the perceptions of social support among youth with disabilities. Available research suggests that students with disabilities report lower levels of social support from significant sources in their home and school environments when compared to student without disabilities. Gender research in perceived social support suggests that females have reported higher levels of social support when compared to male students. Other variables that may be related to ratings of perceived social support include family composition and extracurricular group membership. The present study collected data from male and female middle and high school students from one school system in the Southeastern United States. All statistical analyses were conducted using N of 103, including 22 male students with Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD), 21 female students with SLD, 30 male students in general education, and 30 female students in general education. The majority of the sample included African American participants enrolled in middle school who were eligible for free or reduced lunch. No statistically significant findings in students' ratings perceived social support, as measured with the Child and Adolescent Social Support Scale (Malecki, Demaray, & Elliott, 2000) were identified within the multivariate analyses that compared male and female students with SLD and in general education. In the multivariate analyses exploring differences in student ratings of perceived social support across groups based on family composition and extracurricular group membership, a statistically significant main effect in extracurricular group membership was identified for the perceived social support rating of Teacher Frequency, with students who reported membership in one extracurricular group reporting higher teacher social support frequency ratings.