Depressive symptomatology in children with and without learning difficulties.
Though depression in children has received attention in psychological research, the study of depression in special populations has been sadly neglected. Research has indicated that although depression in children is analogous to adult depression it is expressed in different I ways. Comparative studies on children with learning difficulties and children in regular educational programmes report higher levels of depressive symptomatology in the former group. This study investigated depressive symptomatology in Indian children in the age range 8 to 11 at two schools in Durban, South Africa. Levels of depressive symptomatology in 84 children (41 boys and 43 girls) with learning difficulties in a remedial education programme were compared with those of 116 children (57 boys and 59 girls) from the regular education programme. The children with learning difficulties were placed in self-contained classroom units after being psychometrically assessed. The assessment focused mainly on cognitive functioning with little regard for the affective domain. The Children's Depression Inventory (CDI) (Kovacs, 1992) was administered to all the children in the study. Two separate one way anovas were used to analyse the raw score data for: 1) levels of depressive symptomatology in children with and without learning difficulties, and 2) age differences in depressive symptomatology in children with learning difficulties. The chi-square test of significance was used to investigate gender differences in depressive symptomatology in children with learning difficulties. Children with learning difficulties displayed significantly higher levels .- of depressive symptomatology than children in the regular-education programme. The children with learning difficulties obtained a mean score that implies that they are mildly depressed. There were no statistically significant age and gender differences. However, an age trend was noted in that younger children displayed higher levels of depressive symptomatology than older children. These findings are similar.to those of other authors (Hall and Haws, 1989; Wright-Strawderman and Watson, 1992). Implications of these results are discussed in terms of the relationship between depression and learning difficulties; the assessment of children with learning difficulties; the role of school psychologists and teachers; and the treatment of depressive symptomatology in children with learning difficulties.