Date of Award

Spring 2-12-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies

First Advisor

Mitchell Kossak

Second Advisor

Kelvin Ramirez

Third Advisor

Brian Friedman


This study employed arts-based research with phenomenological, qualitative inquiry to understand and explore the perspectives of adults with learning disabilities and their sense of self and support in inclusive and special education classrooms in Israel during their school years. In this study, the researcher attempted to take Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory (1979) one step further by examining the participants’ feelings and relationships with the people in their daily lives during childhood. The researcher met with 12 participants ages 18-31 diagnosed with learning disabilities between third and eleventh grade. Participants created drawings illustrating how they felt about teachers, parents, friends and themselves, allowing the researcher to understand the participants’ experiences and surroundings during their school years.

Outcomes pointed to the need to be heard, and the potential for art assessment throughout the school year to allow students to convey issues they are facing in and out of school. Other outcomes suggest that participants from the inclusive education group have a better school experience socially, while students from special education classrooms struggle socially. Multiple participants from both special education and inclusive education spoke about feeling alone, sad, proud, ambitious or like a failure. By asking adults to reflect on their childhood experiences as a student with LD, the goal of this research was to elevate the LD experience by advocating for the feelings that individuals with LD share.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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