Prevalence studies suggest that between 5 and 15 percent of people with learning disabilities have behaviours considered to be seriously challenging (Marks, 2016). Children with learning disabilities are at increased risk of experiencing emotional or behavioural difficulties, relative to other children (Gore, Hastings and Brady 2014). Whilst these behaviours can cause problems in the classroom, relationships with peers and the family can also be tested as a consequence.

Recent research has attempted to explain the link between academic difficulties and behavioural problems, seeking to explore whether behaviour problems cause academic difficulties or whether struggling to keep pace with peers academically causes behavioural issues. Lin et. al. (2013) used a large sample of Year 3 and 5 students in the US to gain further understanding of this dilemma and found that both reading and mathematical difficulties increase children’s risk of behavioural problems. Previous research had suggested that mathematical difficulties increased the risk of developing internalising problems; however Lin’s research noted that an increase in externalising behaviours was evident for students in the study who had a mathematical learning disability. Further, they found that reading difficulties increase the risk of emotional difficulties more than behavioural issues.

Children with undiagnosed academic difficulties may exhibit challenging behaviours that are a puzzle to teachers and parents alike. Psychoeducational assessments provide information that gives clear understanding of the presence of learning disabilities, their connections to emotional and behavioural problems and provide recommendations for  teachers and parents, so that everyone  can work together to achieve the best outcomes for a child with academic, emotional or behavioural difficulties.

Bower Place offers comprehensive psychoeducational assessments, enabling a detailed understanding of presenting issues and ways to support children and adolescents with academic difficulties. Please contact Bower Place for further details of our psychoeducational assessment services.


Gore, N., Hastings, R., and Brady, S. (2014). Early Intervention for Children with Learning Disabilities: Making use of What We Know. Tizard Learning Disability Review. 19, (4), pp181-189.

Lin, Yu-Chu., Morgan, P.L., Hillemeier, M., Cook, M., Maczuga, S. and Farkas, G. (2013). Reading, Mathematics and Behavioural Difficulties Interrelate: Evidence form a Cross-Lagged Panel Design and Population-Based Sample of US Upper Elementary Students. Behavioural Disorders, 38 (4), 212-217.

Marks, B. Commentary on “Causing trouble: the Language of Learning Disability and Challenging Behaviour”. Tizard Learning Disability Review. 21, (3), pp.150-153.