Social Competence and Self-image of Adolescents with Dyslexia among Arabs in Israel

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Eman Tarabia, Younis Fareed Abu Alhaija


The aim of this study was to examine the social-emotional characteristics, social competence and self-image of Arab students in Israel with dyslexia. Self-report questionnaires examined how dyslexia is affected by the Arab culture in Israel at different ages: early adolescence – middle school, and late adolescence – high school. The main hypotheses of the study were examined by two questionnaires: social competence and self-image. The subjects were also examined by two measures: a reading accuracy test and a reading comprehension test. The study population (N=381) consisted of Israeli Arab adolescents, consisting of males with dyslexia (N=115), females with dyslexia (N=91), a control group of males (N=60), and a control group of females (N=115). The results supported the assumption that the environment and the culture affect the development of dyslexia, the degree of the disability, and the difficulties.  Hence, Arab culture, with its relative collective, conservative and traditional character, treats children with dyslexia as children of inferior status, adversely affecting their cognitive, emotional and social development. Consequently, their development is not compatible with that of their peers. Low social competence among students with dyslexia impairs their ability to form interpersonal relationships with their peers, and this has consequences in the emotional realm expressed by low self-image. They also have low scores on reading tests and on reading comprehension tests. No significant differences were found between boys and girls on reported scholastic achievements, social competence or self-image. Also, the younger group (middle school) of dyslexic adolescents were found to be more assertive and empathetic than the older group (high school).

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