ADHD or Learning Disabilities (LD)?

Your child was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, and is taking ADHD medication, but he's still struggling at school. Could a learning disability be to blame? Learn the warning signs, and what parents can do to help.

Diagnosing Learning Disabilities, Part 2

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.

This article comes from the Spring 2008 issue of ADDitude.

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TAGS: Learning Disabilities, Diagnosing Children with ADHD, Comorbid Conditions with ADD,

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