In the UK, ADHD is not considered a learning disability. More a learning difficulty due to the symptoms that ADHD causes a child such as focus issues, poor organisational skills and attention difficulties. These challenges can make it tough for students to focus on tasks and assignments in a classroom setting, resulting in lower academic performance overall.
Learning Disorders or Disabilities are neurological, making reading, writing, spelling and maths difficult. Just for clarification, a disorder is a medical term whilst a disability is a legal term and are often used interchangeably depending on the context. Learning disabilities are not due to vision or hearing problems they are neurological.
Approximately two-thirds of all children diagnosed with ADHD have another comorbid disorder which includes learning disabilities. Russell Barkley, the amazing author of Taking Charge of ADHD: The Complete Authoritative Guide for Parents, says children with ADHD are more likely to have a learning disability than children who do not have ADHD.
What are learning disabilities?
Learning disabilities include:
- Auditory Processing Disorder
- Visual Processing Disorder
Dyscalculia is a learning disorder that affects an individual’s ability to comprehend mathematical concepts. It encompasses difficulties with basic arithmetic such as addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication, as well as understanding mathematical symbols. Moreover, it can also affect someone’s ability to comprehend mathematical wording, such as “one more than” or “one less than.”
Individuals with dyscalculia may also struggle with visual-spatial mathematics. This involves the ability to process differences between similar-looking numbers or letters, such as 6 and 9 or W and M. This can also impact one’s ability to follow a sequence of steps in a mathematical problem. It can even cause difficulty in navigating stairs due to an inability to calculate height differences accurately.
It is a neurological condition that affects the brain’s ability to process mathematical information. With proper support and accommodations, individuals with dyscalculia can overcome their challenges and succeed in mathematics.
Dyslexia is a complex learning disorder that can make processing written and spoken language incredibly challenging. The way it manifests can vary greatly from person to person, much like ADHD. Some individuals may struggle with pronouncing everyday words, while others may have difficulty decoding words and splitting them up phonetically. Retrieving simple words can also be a challenge, as can rapidly naming letters, colours, pictures, and objects. Interestingly, some individuals with dyslexia may have exceptional verbal comprehension and vocabulary skills, yet still struggle with reading.
Dysgraphia is a condition that can significantly impact a person’s ability to write effectively. The term “dysgraphia” is derived from the Greek words “dys,” meaning “impaired,” and “graphia,” meaning “writing by hand.” This condition can manifest in a variety of ways, including difficulty with spelling, handwriting, grammar, letter formation, staying within lines, and legibility. As a result, individuals with dysgraphia may struggle to express their thoughts and ideas in writing.
It’s important to note that dysgraphia is a learning disorder that can affect individuals with normal or above-average intelligence. Additionally, it’s possible for someone with dysgraphia to have no issues with reading or speaking. In fact, research suggests that between five and twenty percent of all children may experience some form of deficit related to dysgraphia.
While dysgraphia is often associated with dyslexia and spelling difficulties, it’s important to understand that dysgraphia is a writing difficulty, whereas dyslexia is primarily concerned with reading difficulties.
Dyspraxia is a developmental learning disorder that affects an individual’s movement and coordination. It also affects speech, sensory processing, and social skills. This condition is characterised by difficulties in planning and executing movements, which can lead to challenges in daily activities.
Similar to ADHD, the exact cause of dyspraxia is unknown. It is believed to be related to a combination of genetic and environmental factors that affect brain development.
Children with dyspraxia may exhibit clumsiness or awkwardness in their movements. They often struggle with gross motor skills such as sitting, walking, hopping, skipping, and jumping. They may also have difficulty with fine motor skills, such as holding a pencil or using utensils, as well as motor planning and sequencing skills, which involve the ability to recall patterns of movements to complete tasks.
Additionally, children with dyspraxia may experience challenges with balance and coordination, leading to further difficulties in daily activities. They may also struggle with gauging the appropriate amount of force to use for certain tasks, such as writing or opening doors.
While some signs of dyspraxia may be apparent from an early age, others may not become apparent until later in childhood.
Dysphasia and aphasia are language learning disorders that affect children. These conditions can cause difficulties with communication, including speaking, understanding, reading, and writing. Dysphasia is typically used to describe language problems that arise in children due to developmental issues. Aphasia is more commonly associated with language difficulties that occur after a brain injury or stroke. However, aphasia is now used as a more general term.
Children with dysphasia or aphasia may struggle to express themselves, understand others, or use language appropriately in social situations. These challenges can have a significant impact on a child’s academic and social development, as well as their overall quality of life.
It is important for parents and caregivers to be aware of the signs of dysphasia and aphasia in children. Early intervention can greatly improve outcomes. Speech therapy, educational support, and other interventions can help children with language disorders to develop the skills they need to communicate effectively and thrive in their daily lives.
Auditory Processing Disorder
Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is a condition that affects children’s ability to process and interpret sounds. This disorder can make it difficult for children to understand speech, especially in noisy environments. APD can also affect a child’s ability to follow directions, remember information, and learn new skills.
Children with APD may exhibit a variety of symptoms, including difficulty understanding speech, trouble following directions, poor listening skills, and difficulty with reading and spelling. These symptoms can have a significant impact on a child’s academic and social development, making it important to identify and address APD as early as possible.
Fortunately, there are a variety of interventions and therapies available to help children with APD. These may include speech and language therapy, auditory training, and the use of assistive listening devices. With the right support and treatment, children with APD can learn to overcome their challenges and thrive in school and beyond.
If you suspect that your child may have APD, it is important to seek out a qualified professional for assessment and diagnosis. With early intervention and support, children with APD can achieve their full potential and lead happy, successful lives.
Visual Processing Disorder
Visual processing disorder is a condition that affects a child’s ability to interpret and understand visual information. This disorder can make it difficult for children to read, write, and perform other tasks that require visual processing skills.
It is important for parents and educators to recognise the signs of a visual processing disorder in children and seek appropriate support and interventions. This may include working with a vision therapist, occupational therapist, or other specialists to develop strategies and accommodations to help the child succeed in school and daily life.
Symptoms of visual processing disorder can include difficulty with visual memory, visual discrimination, and visual sequencing. Children with this disorder may also have trouble with spatial awareness, depth perception, and visual-motor integration.
What a Learning Disorder is not
Research has shown that LDs are linked to genetic and environmental factors. They are not a result of poor parenting, bad teaching, your economic situation or health-related reasons. It is essential to note that LDs are not a reflection of an individual’s intelligence or effort. Individuals with LDs have average or above-average intelligence. It is simply different wiring of the brain which affects how a brain receives and processes information.
They can affect a child’s self-esteem because despite trying hard in school, their efforts may not translate into good grades. With the right support and interventions, a child can do well in school. Please click on the individual Learning Disorder links to read a more in-depth blog post on each disorder.
Learning Disorders can make specific skills such as language or maths difficult. ADHD on the other hand impacts ‘global’ skills and the child’s executive function eg their impulsive behaviour, problems with attention and focus, and emotional regulation. Therefore, whilst ADHD is not a learning disability, it makes learning difficult for the child. It is important that your child is treated for both their ADHD and LD as separate diagnoses.
I have started a private support group on Facebook for parents and carers who need support with their child with ADHD. It’s a friendly place to chat with others. Please do click this link ADHDinchildren to join. And for anyone on Instagram, I’m there too ADHD Mum. *Any purchases made through this post with Amazon will make me a small commission but does not affect your price.
I have started a private support group on Facebook for parents and carers who need support with their child with ADHD. It’s a friendly place to chat with others. Please do click this link ADHDinchildren to join. And for anyone on Instagram, I’m there too ADHD Mum.