ADHD Learning Differences
Dealing with academic issues in an ADHD child
By: Lonnie Guthrie
Students with ADHD face many challenges in the classroom. The most important factor of ADHD is how it can affect a child’s ability to learn. While ADHD is not a learning disability, its symptoms can impact a child’s performance in school. This can be compounded when a child is either “gifted and talented” or has a learning disability.
It can be tough to determine the cause of a child’s academic problems because many of the behaviors are the same. Children with ADHD, learning disabilities, and those who are gifted and talented may have:
- Poor attention
- Problems with daydreaming or inattention
- Power struggles with people in authority
- High activity levels or impulsivity
Many of the main symptoms of children with ADHD are also seen in children who are either gifted or have learning disabilities.
Research shows that up to 50% of children with ADHD will also have a learning disorder. But learning disorders and ADHD are not the same. Each is diagnosed and treated differently. It is important to have your child evaluated by a trained professional for each condition. The school will often test a child if a learning disorder is suspected.
Many children have learning disorders. They can include:
- Speech disorders
- Language disorders
- Academic disorders (e.g. reading, writing, arithmetic)
As with ADHD, some students with learning disorders may act out. They may do poorly in classes like reading, writing, and arithmetic. Because the behaviors are often similar, parents need to pay special attention to the duration and location of their child’s behaviors. This can help identify whether the problem is ADHD, a learning disorder, or often both.
Gifted and Talented Children
While some ADHD children may have a learning disorder, there is a growing body of research that suggests that some ADHD children are also gifted and talented. It may be difficult to determine “giftedness” because teachers and clinicians may not look for it in children believed to have ADHD.
It is important to look at situations where your child may encounter problems when trying to determine if your child is gifted, ADHD, or both,. Some questions to think about include:
- Do all teachers, or just a few see your child as “ADHD”?
- Does your child misbehave only at school?
- Do you see these behaviors in other places, like at after school activities?
- Are these behaviors common in all settings? Or just a few?
Identifying if a child is ADHD, gifted, or both, can be a very difficult task. Your child’s health care provider and teachers may run a number of tests. Tests can include ADHD behavior scales, intelligence and learning disability tests.
To complicate matters, a child can also have ADHD, be gifted, AND have a learning disability. These gifted children will fail to meet their potential when left undiagnosed and untreated. Just imagine what it might be like to be inattentive, impulsive, hyperactive, have an IQ of 140 AND dyslexia – extremely frustrating.
Rearing children can be especially challenging for the parent of an ADHD child. Situations can be compounded if the child is gifted and talented and/or has a learning disability. The best course of action is to have your child tested. From there, the sky is the limit!
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