G5 Doctoral dissertation (article)
A follow-up study of childhood disabilities : pathways to adult-age education, employment and psychosocial wellbeing (2019)

Eloranta, A.-K. (2019). A follow-up study of childhood disabilities : pathways to adult-age education, employment and psychosocial wellbeing [Doctoral dissertation]. Jyväskylän yliopisto. JYU dissertations, 155. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-7948-5

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Eloranta, Anna-Kaija

eISBN: 978-951-39-7948-5

Journal or series: JYU dissertations

eISSN: 2489-9003

Publication year: 2019

Number in series: 155

Number of pages in the book: 1 verkkoaineisto (74 sivua, 73 sivua useina numerointijaksoina)

Publisher: Jyväskylän yliopisto

Place of Publication: Jyväskylä

Publication country: Finland

Publication language: English

Persistent website address: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-7948-5

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel


This study examined the relations of childhood learning disabilities (LDs) to education, employment and psychosocial wellbeing in adulthood. The first aim was to find out to what extent childhood reading disability (RD) continues into adulthood and its links with various adult-age outcomes. The second aim was to study the relations of subtypes of childhood LDs (RD, mathematical disability (MD), RD+MD) to depression, anxiety and unemployment in adulthood. The third aim was to explore which factors in childhood and adolescence affect the relations of childhood LDs to adult-age outcomes. Two datasets were examined: 1), a sample of 48 adults with childhood RD and 37 matched controls without documented childhood RD (Studies I and II), and 2), life-long register-based data on 430 individuals with childhood LDs (RD, MD, or RD+MD) and 2 149 matched controls (Study III), with annual diagnose-based allowances and reimbursements available. Nineteen (39.6%) adults with childhood RD were found to have continuing reading fluency problems (adult-age RD). Rapid automatized naming (RAN) was slower and unemployment more frequent in the group with adultage RD than in the non-adult-age RD and control groups. Educational attainment was lower in the childhood RD group than in the controls. In the childhood RD group, the lower the reading skills, the more problems were reported in adultage psychosocial wellbeing. Childhood LDs were related to diagnosed depression and anxiety and with unemployment. Differences between the subtypes of LDs in adult-age outcomes were minor. Adolescence was pivotal in predicting adulthood: along with childhood RAN and RD, support experienced in adolescence explained adult reading fluency. Moreover, psychiatric problems in adolescence mediated the relation of LDs to adult-age depression, anxiety and unemployment. As it was shown that it is not the LD as such but rather the continuity of the difficulty and the secondary problems related to the LD that influence later life, the findings call for a holistic approach in LD research that includes cognitive, psychosocial and environmental factors in a lifespan perspective. Special educational and social support for individuals with LDs should be extended beyond adolescence, as they have benefits at both the individual and societal level.

Keywords: learning difficulties; reading disorders; dyslexia; childhood; youth; adulthood; adults; young adults; educating oneself; learning; mathematics; reading; mental well-being; depression (mental disorders); anxiety; access to employment; unemployment

Free keywords: mathematical disability; follow-up; longitudinal

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2019

Last updated on 2021-09-06 at 20:05