Is ADHD a learning disability

Is ADHD a learning disability. ADHD, affects focus, attention and behavior and can make learning challenging. Is ADHD considered a learning disability ?
A disorder that includes difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior and hyperactivity. Although ADHD is not considered a learning disability, research indicates that from 30-50 percent of children with ADHD also have a specific learning disability, and that the two conditions can interact to make learning extremely challenging.

Is ADHD a learning disability.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a condition that becomes apparent in some children in the preschool and early school years. It is hard for these children to control their behavior and/or pay attention. It is estimated that between 3 and 5 percent of children have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or approximately 2 million children in the United States. This means that in a classroom of 24 to 30 children, it is likely that at least one will have ADHD.

ADHD is not considered to be a learning disability. It can be determined to be a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), making a student eligible to receive special education services. However, ADHD falls under the category “Other Health Impaired” and not under “Specific Learning Disabilities.”

Many children with ADHD ¬ approximately 20 to 30 percent ¬ also have a specific learning disability.

The principle characteristics of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. There are three subtypes of ADHD recognized by professionals. These are the predominantly hyperactive/impulsive type (that does not show significant inattention); The predominantly inattentive type (that does not show significant hyperactive-impulsive behavior) sometimes called ADD; and the combined type (that displays both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms).

Other disorders that sometimes accompany ADHD are Tourette Syndrome (affecting a very small proportion of people with ADHD); oppositional defiant disorder (affecting as many as one-third to one-half of all children with ADHD); conduct disorder (about 20 to 40% of ADHD children); anxiety and depression; and bipolar disorder.

ADHD isn’t a learning disability. But it can affect learning. Schools know this and have developed different kinds of classroom supports to help children who struggle with attention.

Special education law covers 13 kinds of conditions. Learning disabilities is one of the 13 groups. Another group is called “Other Health Impaired.” This is the group that covers ADHD.

This means that children with ADHD may be able to get an Individualized Education Program (IEP). But here’s where things can get confusing. To qualify for an IEP, a child’s ADHD has to significantly affect her learning or school performance.

So what’s the difference between ADHD and learning issues? A learning disability makes it hard to acquire specific skills such as reading or math. ADHD impacts more global skills like paying attention and controlling impulses. (It’s tough to do well in any subject if you can’t focus on the lessons, homework or tests.)

Here’s another reason some people are confused about ADHD and learning disabilities: It’s common for kids to have both. Some studies suggest that nearly half of children who have ADHD also have a learning issue.

The important thing to keep in mind is that schools have many ways to help struggling students learn more effectively. This is true for kids who have ADHD, learning issues or both. Learning more about your child’s rights can help you set the stage for success in school and in life.

Half of All Kids with ADHD Have a Learning Disability or Related Condition
The stereotypical hallmarks of ADHD — inattention, poor executive functions, behavioral problems, and more — could actually be symptoms of learning disability like dyslexia or another related condition. Learn how to distinguish the signs.

A mother takes her daughter to the family doctor because she’s always tired and lacks energy. The doctor notes that the linings of her eyelids are pale and concludes that she has iron deficiency anemia. The doctor prescribes iron.

Another mother hears from her daughter’s teacher that she isn’t sitting still and paying attention in class. The teacher does some rating scales that confirm this observation. The mother takes these comments and forms to the family doctor, who says, “Why don’t we put her on Ritalin (or Adderall or Dexedrine, ADHD learning disabilities or Strattera….)?”

In each case, the doctor has observed symptoms that suggest a problem. However, before treatment is started, it’s critical to clarify the specific cause of it. Clearly, in the first case, the doctor would do several diagnostic tests before concluding the cause of anemia and starting a treatment plan. This approach is just as critical in making a diagnosis of ADHD, is ADHD a learning disorder ?

Yes, your child or adolescent might be overactive, inattentive, and/or impulsive. But these behaviors could be caused by anxiety, depression, a learning disability, family problems, or even pinworms (which can cause itchiness around a child’s rear end). It’s essential that the physician explore and find the cause of the behavior

Is ADHD a learning disability.

More Than ADHD
While it’s essential for a physician to make a definitive diagnosis of ADHD, it’s equally important for him or her to look for other problems that often coexist with it. These are called comorbidities. Once a diagnosis is made, starting treatment with the appropriate medication is critical. But medication isn’t the sole answer. In fact, kids who are only on medication have less successful outcomes than those who receive help for other problems they might have.

Your family doctor may not know this. So you must be informed to shape the evaluation process and treatment plan. Toward that end, here is what you should know about the most common conditions associated with ADHD and a basic treatment plan for each:

Learning Disabilities
Fifty percent of children and adolescents with ADHD also have some type of learning disability (LD), such as dyslexia or auditory processing disorder. An LD may explain why a child on medication can sit still and stay focused and yet do poorly academically. There could also be another reason for academic failure. If the ADHD diagnosis isn’t made until the fourth or fifth grade, it’s possible that a child will have gaps in basic skills, especially math and language arts, prior to receiving treatment for ADHD. While this student may not have a learning disability, he will need academic interventions to help him or her catch up.

Course of action: Speak with your school professionals about assessing your child to see if he or she has a learning disability. If they refuse, you might try getting a private assessment. If your student has an LD, he/she will need special education services, along with appropriate accommodations in the classroom.

Emotional Problems
Fifty percent of those diagnosed with ADHD will have so-called regulatory problems — difficulty regulating their emotions. Some might struggle with anxiety, possibly having panic attacks, while others may experience periods of depression. Other children may have trouble controlling their anger, while still others might have difficulty regulating their thoughts and behaviors, which can result in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Some kids have trouble controlling their motor behavior (tics are a common symptom).

Such problems are caused by faulty wiring in an area of the brain other than that involved in ADHD. If your child has any of these problems, and if they have been chronic and pervasive, it’s essential that they be diagnosed.

Course of action: Speak to your family doctor and request a referral to a mental health professional. (Since medication may be needed, it would be efficient to see a child and adolescent psychiatrist, who, unlike a psychologist, can prescribe medication.) If your student has a regulatory problem, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) may help significantly.

Is ADHD a learning disability.

Behavioral Problems
Unlike regulatory problems, these behaviors aren’t pervasive or chronic. They usually begin at a certain age — third grade or middle school — and seem to occur in certain settings, such as the classroom or when doing homework. They’re often caused by frustrations and failures a child has experienced before his or her ADHD was diagnosed. Some kids deal with emotional pain by externalizing their problems. They blame others and take no responsibility for their behaviors. This syndrome is called oppositional defiant disorder or, when it’s more severe, conduct disorder. Some children keep the pain inside and have a poor self-image. They might show clinical evidence of anxiety or depression.

Course of action: Seek a consultation with a mental health professional, preferably one who is familiar with ADHD. Treatment often requires that the child work with a therapist, along with his parents and siblings.

Social Skills Problems
If the child acted oddly or inappropriately with friends or schoolmates before he received treatment for ADHD, it’s often hard for his peers to shake that image of him. The child might need help relearning social skills. For others, difficulty in relating to peers may have other causes, which should be both explored and diagnosed.

Course of action: Once again, seek a consultation with a mental health professional familiar with ADHD. Interventions might include counseling, group therapy, or participation in a group that focuses on teaching social skills. The school counselor can often play a significant role in these interventions.

Family Problems
Parents of a child with ADHD symptoms may be overwhelmed by managing their child’s behavior or conflicted about a course of action. The stress often causes marital problems that may adversely affect a child.

Course of action: Seek a mental health professional who specializes in marital or family counseling.

Diagnosing ADHD
Make sure that your physician takes a thorough history of your child before making a diagnosis. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when talking with the doctor and before starting a course of ADHD medication:
Diagnosing ADHD
- Symptoms and behaviors due to anxiety or depression — not ADHD — start at a specific time or occur only in certain circumstances.
- Symptoms caused by ADHD are chronic and pervasive. You probably would have noted his or her behavior since preschool.
- A diagnosis of ADHD requires three steps: 1) showing that the behaviors exist; 2) showing that they have existed since at least age six ; and 3) showing that they occur in two or more life situations (home, school, work, relationships).
Diagnosing ADHD 3 core symptoms of ADHD
Ask most grade-school children about the best parts of their school day and they’ll probably say, “Lunch and recess.” Ask children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and they’ll almost certainly shout out those same answers. Why? Because “the teacher doesn’t get mad at me if I get out of my seat, walk around, or if I don’t pay attention.”

Playtime or recess is more than just fun. “Kids need a break,” says Stewart Trost, assistant professor of kinesiology at Kansas State University. “They can focus better in the classroom when given that break.”

I believe that these observations are especially true for children with ADHD. Sitting quietly in a seat, staying focused on work, and remembering to raise a hand before speaking takes effort – more effort than for students without ADHD. If we told union workers that they had to go from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. without a break, they’d go on strike.

I was distressed to learn that, according to a recent report from the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists, nearly 40 percent of the nation’s school districts have either modified or deleted – or are considering modifying or deleting – recess from their elementary school schedules. The reason? To provide students with more classroom time for reading, math, and science.

According to Trost, however, some research suggests that kids who have recess display an improved ability to stay on task, are less fidgety in the classroom, and are better behaved. He adds that movement is essential to the physical and social development of all children.

Recess is even more important for students with ADHD. For them, recess isn’t an extra activity; it’s an essential one. Physical activity is healthy and relaxing, and provides focus and clarity of mind. But the benefits of recess go beyond reducing the fidget factor: Kids learn social skills on the playground, and teachers can learn a lot about their students by watching them play, by noticing who is being isolated, teased, or bullied.

I urge school administrators to recall their elementary school days. Don’t take recess away. To parents I say, let the school know how critical recess is for your child.

Yes, reading, math, and science are important, but play and exercise are also necessary school-day components. If you’re a parent of a child with ADHD, don’t give up recess without a fight. Join with parents of all students and say no to such proposals. Your child will thank you.
rate of adhd Diagnosing

7 simple study tricks to improve test scores for students with ADHD and learning disabilities.
Can’t live with ’em, can’t graduate without ’em. We’re talking tests here. Like it or not (not!), tests are an important academic assessment tool.

Your performance on tests demonstrates how well you understand material, your ability to accomplish tasks, and how you absorb and interpret information. Knowing the material is key, but often that’s not enough to ace an exam. Also essential is good preparation, which gets your brain ready and clears the way for calm and confidence. Here, homework help in the form of seven SUCCESS tips to prep you for any test.

Start Early
The simplest way to improve test results is to start studying well ahead of time. This will get material into your long-term memory, where it has staying power. But here’s the key for anyone with ADHD: Don’t try to do it all at once. Instead, break studying down into manageable pieces. Will the test cover three chapters? Review one chapter each night for three nights, then review them all on the fourth and final night. Another perk of starting early is to find out whether you need help before it’s too late (see next tip).

Understand the Test
Ever studied your heart out only to find that you weren’t studying the right material or that you missed a key section? There’s an easy way to prevent this: Ask your teacher for guidance. First, prepare. Outline what you think will be on the test, even if you’re not sure. Review and briefly outline your notes, readings, and homework. Look for a general theme that ties the material together. Show your teacher the outline, explain what you know, and ask if you’ve missed anything.

Ask about:

The focus of the exam.
- If there’s anything not in your outline that you need to study.
- What you don’t need to study or focus much attention on.
- The exam format — yes or no, multiple choice, or short-answer questions. If it’s an essay exam, the focus is probably more conceptual. If there’s a fill-in-the-blanks section, you’ll need to memorize dates and terms.
- Specific terms you need to know. Afterward, verify that the definitions you found are correct.

Create the Right Environment
Knowing where and when you study best is as important as the studying itself. Do you need total quiet or do you need stimulus? If silence works, get earplugs, and find a place to study with minimum distractions — away from siblings, TV, and other noise. Shut off your phone and the Internet. If you do better with some background music and stimulus, put on a CD or the TV, go to a library, or try alternating blocks of study with other activity. Are you a morning person or an evening person? Study during your most productive time of the day.

Also, energize yourself with the right balance of protein, for sustained energy, and carbohydrates, for immediate energy. While studying, snack on high-protein foods like nuts, beef jerky, and cheese, and good carbs (which can also help to keep anxiety at bay) like high-fiber fruits (apples, oranges) and whole-grain crackers and rice cakes. Don’t forget to stay hydrated with plenty of water.

Choose the Right Study Tools
Let the format of the exam guide your study-tool choices. Have a lot of terms to memorize? Make flashcards and quiz yourself right up until the exam. Have a lot of facts and concepts to memorize? Write a review sheet. This is great to refer to, and the act of writing helps you assimilate information. Also, use memory devices like mnemonics. For example, the seven concepts in this article are put into a mnemonic format with the word S.U.C.C.E.S.S. to help you remember them.

Cater to your own needs and style in a creative way. Are you visual? Use colored flashcards and different-colored pens to rewrite or outline key points. If you’re auditory, read and study aloud. Record the in-class review session and listen to it at home.

If outlining is hard, but you can “see” concepts and ideas, make a physical model or draw a concept map. This will help clarify ideas and show how they relate to one another. For example, in history, you might discover, when reviewing your concept map, that events A and B helped cause event C.

Enlist Help
Don’t hesitate to ask for help. This can be as simple as meeting with a teacher (discussed above) or going over ideas with a classmate. You can also use a tutor or coach to help you learn the material, stay on track, and get the job done. However, if you feel you know the material but tend to test poorly, consider tutoring or helping others. This will force you to clarify ideas and will reveal areas of weakness.

Simplify and Skim
If you’re short on time or there’s too much material to go over, work smarter — and simpler. Focus on main ideas and read over chapter summaries. Quiz yourself by checking how much detail you remember that’s not mentioned in the summary. Actively recalling information is a great way to burn it into long-term memory.

Get into the habit of taking detailed class notes, and highlight and star key concepts. Then make an outline from the notes (highlighted and starred points become outline headings). Do the same with everything you read.

Shorten Study Blocks
Remember to take breaks. Stretch, walk around the block, grab a snack, send an e-mail, or pick up a magazine every 30 minutes or so. Keep the breaks short, using a timer if necessary.

Bonus Tip: Use ADHD creativity to your advantage! For example, build models of molecules if you’re studying chemistry. Or create your own heroic story to memorize Civil War facts. Thrive on and reward yourself for your ingenuity. After all, ADHD is often brilliance underutilized and over-scrutinized.

When Parents Disagree About ADHD Medications
Adam Levine I remember being the kid with ADHD. Truth is, I still have it.

When Parents Disagree About ADHD Medications
Disagreements over ADHD medications are common, but they can still be challenging for families to overcome. Here’s what to do when you say yes to meds, but your spouse says no.
You and your son’s doctor believe that he should be on medication, but your spouse refuses: “There’s nothing wrong with my son. I won’t let you put him on medication.”

Your parents or in-laws insist that there is nothing wrong with their granddaughter: “You just need to be more firm with her.”

You are divorced and have shared custody. Your ex refuses permission for you to administer medication, or even threatens to go to court to stop you from giving it to your child.

Raising a child or adolescent with ADHD is not an easy task. Ideally, both parents participate in the evaluation process. The physician explains to them in person what ADHD is, how the diagnostic process works, and why medication may be necessary.
Thus, both are committed to the line of recommended treatment, and they can rely on each other for support. But too often, the reality looks more like one of the scenarios above.

Family conflict can mean a major crisis for you and your child. Parents often try to dodge the problem. “Don’t tell Dad that you’re taking these pills,” or “When you visit Grandma, don’t let her know about your medicine.” But such approaches place your child in a difficult position. She might begin to think that there is something wrong about the fact that she takes medication. Or she might be upset that she is being asked to lie to her father. And in the case of divorce, not only does the child feel caught in the middle, but she’ll be off her medication when visiting your ex on weekends or vacations. Is there a solution ?

When Parents Disagree About ADHD Medications

Try Talking First
I have faced these problems many times in my practice. If both parents weren’t involved in the diagnosis or if the ex refused to participate, you must try to educate the person who wasn’t there.

- In person: I’ll invite this person to come in to discuss any concerns or fears. On occasion, I have met with grandparents, along with both parents (or parent and ex), to explain what ADHD is and why there is a need for medication.
- On the phone: If a parent refuses to meet with me, I might call and say, “I understand that you are uneasy with the idea of Billy taking medication. May I try to answer your questions or address your concerns?” It’s hard for the parent to run away once you have him on the line.

Involve the School
If none of these approaches works or if the other adult refuses to participate, move on to more intensive techniques. Offer to get a second opinion. Sometimes, this professional reinforcement helps the other adult to accept the need for treatment. Or you might ask friends whose children take medication to speak with this adult.

Another approach that I try when nothing else seems to be working takes a little more effort but it might pay off. Let’s say you, the mother, understand the need for treatment and are willing to try medication. In my experience, this happens because, whenever the child has difficulty in school with attention, learning, and/or behavior, mothers are most often the ones who get the call. The school does not call the father. Because your husband has not heard from the school about the learning and behavior problems, he doesn’t feel any urgency to do something or even understand the extent to which these problems are affecting his child. Don’t allow this to continue. You shouldn’t be the only one interacting with the school while your spouse is spared from the discomfort of dealing with the situation. Once he shares your concern, he may open up to the need for treatment.

Negotiate with the teacher and principal to even out this patriarchal imbalance. Request that at least half of the calls be made to your husband instead of you. If you are divorced, request that both parents be contacted every time there is an incident. Give your child’s school her father’s work and cell phone numbers so he can hear about the problems as they arise. Let him be the one who gets upset for a change. Do not go to meetings with the teacher or IEP team without your husband or ex. The school can help by contacting him and insisting that he attend the next meeting.

A Last Resort
If nothing else works and you feel it essential that your child be on medication, you may have to seek legal counsel. There are legal ways to prevent the other parent from blocking medication. If the grandparents are the obstacle to treatment, be more firm. Tell them if they persist in undercutting your decision to use medication, you might have to limit their visits with their grandchild.

Helping your child is your primary concern. When those who should be supportive are non-supportive or present barriers, it is essential that you do what is best for your child. Persuading these family members will be difficult, but in my experience, you shouldn’t have to go further than getting the school involved.

what is adhd dyslexia

How to Talk to Your Child About ADHD Medicine
If your child is refusing to take his ADHD medication, he could be scared or confused. Here, tips for talking to your child so he’ll cooperate and understand how important the medicine is.
Janice knows that after her son, Billy, takes his medication for treating attention deficit disorder (ADHD), he can sit and focus in class. But last spring his teachers began to complain that he wasn’t getting his work done and that he was bothering his classmates.

She wondered if his medication had stopped working, or if he needed a higher dose to treat his ADHD.

One day as she cleaned out his drawers, she found his pills. When she confronted him, he snapped, “There’s nothing wrong with me. I don’t need pills to be good.”

Some kids are even more clever. Mary learned to “check” her pills — hiding them between cheek and gum — then to leave the room and flush them down the toilet. There was no evidence that she didn’t take her medication.

Another child decided not to go to his school nurse’s office to get his medication. The nurse reported to his parents that it’s not her responsibility to find him: “He knows he needs to come.” Then the complaints from the afternoon teachers made sense.

What do you do when your child refuses to take his ADHD medication? What if each medication time is a battle, or you find out your child has only been pretending to take his meds? There are no easy answers, but here are some suggestions.

Make it mean something
Children (and adults, too) are more cooperative when they understand the reasons for something. So it’s important to educate your child about why she needs medication, and to let her take an active role in managing it. When your child is prescribed medication, explain why it’s necessary and how it will help her. Tailor your message to your child’s age. Saying “It’s just a vitamin pill” will backfire when she learns the truth. Trust and respect are necessary.

In my books for parents, I suggest how you might explain medication to your child. Use key words that kids can understand, and convey that your child’s brain isn’t damaged, defective, or retarded. I like to say that it’s just wired differently. Here are some sample explanations:

behavior adhd ocd

FOR HYPERACTIVITY: “You know that sometimes it’s hard for you to sit still. You might be up and down or fidget in your seat or like to tap things on the table? This is because the brakes in your brain, which slow you down, aren’t working as well as they could. The medicine will help the brakes work more effectively, and help you calm down and move around less.”

FOR DISTRACTIBILITY: “The brain is wonderful. It has filters that can block out unimportant sounds or sights, allowing us to focus on one thing at a time. But sometimes the filters are not working efficiently. The unimportant sounds aren’t blocked, and you become easily distracted. Your medicine helps these filters work more effectively, so you can focus longer and be less distracted.”

FOR IMPULSIVITY: “Our brain is able to reflect on our thoughts before deciding to act on them. This delay helps us decide what to do at any given time. If this reflector isn’t working properly, we don’t stop to think before we act. This is why you might call out or interrupt. (Or why you do things without thinking and feel bad about it.) The medicine will help your reflector work more effectively, so you can think before you talk or act.”

ASK FOR INPUT: “Mary, I need your help. Do you think the medicine is helping your brakes work better? How about your filters? Maybe we need to speak to the doctor about adjusting the amount you take.”

The more your child understands the purpose of medication and how it works, the more likely she is to cooperate. If there are side effects, she will be less upset if you explain them, and assure her that you’ll talk to her doctor about it.

Offer some control
Being actively involved in the decision-making increases a child’s cooperation. So let your child have a role in assessing the effects of his medication. For example, set up a chart for each day of the week, divided into time periods (before school, after lunch, after school). Across the top write brakes, filters, and reflectors. At the end of the day, have your child tell you how his medicine worked during the day. Mark his findings in the chart, and you can see when it’s working and when it isn’t. Your team effort can help determine his medication dose and timing.

Sometimes a child is afraid to swallow pills or doesn’t know how. If he tries to chew (a natural instinct), the taste of the medication can be a turn-off. Rather than assume your child knows how to take pills, teach him. Offer a pill-size piece of candy (he’ll feel safe with this), and explain that there are no taste buds on the top of the tongue, only along the sides. Help him put the candy on the top of the tongue, away from the tip. Explain that a whole pill doesn’t taste bad. Then have him wash down the “pill” with some water. Most children can learn to swallow pills with a little practice. If this doesn’t work, ask your doctor to prescribe an eight-hour capsule (such as Ritalin LA or Adderall XL), which can be opened and sprinkled over food.

Tread lightly with preteens
Most children will learn to take their medicine. They’ll understand that it helps and will cooperate. But problems can arise during the early-adolescent stage. Middle-school kids don’t want to be different. It’s essential that they be accepted as “normal.” Suddenly, at this age, a once-cooperative child will rebel and resist his medication. Pill time becomes a battle, and parents usually lose.

I counsel parents to try again with education. Maybe the family doctor can help. Explain again — but don’t lecture — about brakes, filters, and reflectors. Say that if these areas of the brain are working well, he is more likely to be seen as normal rather than different. Respect an adolescent’s fear that someone might find out about his ADHD. All-day coverage might help. Ask your child’s teacher to refrain from saying publicly, “James, did you take your pill today?” Find some way to elicit understanding and help.

Sometimes family dynamics contribute to medication refusal. A sibling may tease the child who takes medication, calling him a “retard” or “mental.” If this happens, you first handle the sibling. Perhaps one parent doesn’t agree that “my child” should be on medication. He or she might verbally agree to it, while sending a clear, nonverbal message of disapproval. The child sees this and resists taking the medication. If this sounds like your family, consider family counseling. Talking to a therapist — or at least talking with your family doctor — may be in order, if the consequences are significant and if all your other efforts have failed.

Even the best plans flop with middle-school students. Sometimes I advise parents merely to try to minimize the damage caused by being off medication. It may not be until their child is older and more comfortable with himself that he again agrees to take it.


Could It Be A Learning Disability ?
An ADHD diagnosis isn’t always the answer. Learn how certain red flags, like an inability to communicate or difficulty remembering facts, might mean your child is struggling with a learning disability.

Andrew was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in first grade. In the fifth grade, his parents brought him to see me for an evaluation after doing poorly in school. Although his hyperactivity and inattention were under control, he had difficulty retaining what he read and knowing what to write when he was assigned a paper. An evaluation showed that he had both Learning Disabilities (LD) and ADHD.

Melissa, an eighth-grader, was failing her courses. Her teachers encouraged Melissa’s parents to have her evaluated for ADHD. I found that, while she had difficulty maintaining attention when doing homework or independent work in class, she didn’t have problems in other settings.

Curiously, her problems had not been evident in elementary school. My assessment showed that her reading, writing, and math skills were weak for her grade level.

She also struggled with organization and time management. Testing confirmed she had a learning disability. The absence of a chronic and pervasive history of inattention ruled out ADHD.

Between 30 and 50 percent of those with ADHD also have a learning disability. The reverse is also true. As a result, it is wise for parents with a child with ADHD to have him evaluated for a learning disability. Melissa’s case illustrates another problem that can confuse parents. If a learning disability is not recognized early enough, a child might exhibit ADHD-like symptoms  — fidgeting, doodling, looking around the room — that can mistakenly lead parents and teachers to conclude that he has ADHD. What to do?

First, what not to do. Don’t blame the victim -and don’t let teachers do it either. “She just doesn’t work hard enough,” “He’d have less trouble if he only paid attention” — have you heard such statements before, or have you said them to your child? No child wants to do poorly or to fail. Before you blame your child for his problems, try to find the reason for his lack of success.

Red Flags to Look For
The earlier you suspect your child may have a learning disability, the sooner you can get help. Here are some weaknesses to watch for.

In preschool, look for:
- Communication problems, such as slow language development, difficulty with speech, problems understanding what is being said or in communicating thoughts.
- Poor motor coordination and uneven motor development, such as delays in learning to walk, color, and/or use scissors.
- Problems with memory, routine, and multiple instructions.
- Delays in socialization, including interacting with other children.

In early elementary school, look for:
- Problems with rapid letter recognition and with recognizing familiar words by sight. Difficulties learning phonemes (units of sound) and sounding out words.
- Problems forming letters and numbers. Later, problems with basic spelling and grammar.
 -Difficulties learning math skills and doing math calculations.
- Difficulty remembering facts.
- Difficulty organizing materials (notebook, papers), information, and/or concepts. Losing or forgetting material, or doing work and forgetting to turn it in.
- Not understanding oral instructions. Difficulty expressing oneself.

In later elementary school, look for:
- Difficulty with independent reading and retaining what was read.
 - Difficulty organizing thoughts for written work.
- Difficulty learning new math concepts and successfully applying them.
- Increased difficulty organizing school and personal materials.

In middle school, look for:
- Increased difficulty retaining what was read, organizing and writing papers, and mastery of more advanced math concepts.
- Increased difficulty with organizing, planning, and developing learning strategies.

In high school, look for:
- Increased difficulty with reading assignments, papers and/or math.
- Increased difficulty with organization, as more independent work is expected.

Could It Be A Learning Disability

Now What ?
If your child has some or all of these difficulties, discuss your concerns with teachers. Request an evaluation. If they don’t think testing is warranted, speak with the principal. (If your child is in a private school, you are entitled to request an evaluation from the public school your child would have attended.) The initial evaluation may consist of observations from relevant school professionals and trial interventions. If this doesn’t indicate a learning disability, a full battery of testing should be done.

If your school refuses to do an assessment, consider hiring a professional to evaluate your child. If the results confirm an LD, go back to your school and ask that your concerns be addressed.

Once your child is found to have a learning disability, it’s important to get help, whether in re-mediating the problems or developing compensatory strategies. Accommodations in the classroom may also be needed. Remember that teachers often chalk up a child’s difficulties to ADHD, not a learning disability. Now you know the difference and can help your child succeed.

Know What’s Expected
A learning disability manifests itself in various ways. Familiarizing yourself with the goals of each grade level will help you recognize whether your child is meeting them.

- Preschool:In addition to socialization skills, children begin to improve motor skills (coloring, cutting, drawing) and language skills (discussions, stories, play).
- Kindergarten: A child should develop rapid letter recognition, many sound/letter associations, early number concepts, and the rudiments of writing.
- First and second grades: A child learns to read by blending sounds with letters and sounding out words. They learn to form letters, and are taught capitalization and early punctuation. They learn basic math concepts, and should master addition and subtraction.
- Third and fourth grades: The focus shifts from developing skills to using them. Does a child understand what he has read, and can he write a book report? Spelling, grammar, and punctuation skills are further developed, as well as the ability to express oneself on paper. Math skills expand to include multiplication and division. The student learns to express himself verbally.
- Fifth grade/middle school: The focus shifts to using skills to learn content-history, science. Reading assignments become longer and more complex. Written assignments require the ability to conceptualize and organize thoughts. Expressing oneself well verbally is important. Basic math skills lead to more complex math concepts. Organizing papers becomes important.
- High school: The focus is on content. It is assumed that the student can read and use what was read, take notes, organize, and write short and long papers. Math becomes still more complex. Verbal comprehension (during lectures) and expression are important. The need to independently organize materials, keep track of assignments, and complete tasks in a timely way is essential.