Ask the Experts

Is It ADHD or a Learning Disability?

“I have a nine-year-old with ADHD. School is a struggle for him; his vocabulary is mature, but he has a hard time with phonics and breaking down words. Is this typical?”

About 30-40 percent of children with ADHD also have a learning disability. Your descriptions of your child’s problems with phonics, reading and writing suggest that he also has a learning disability. The difference between the two is that a learning disability interferes with how a person processes information; thus they are unable to learn without special education help. ADHD often makes the person unavailable for learning because of inattention or impulsivity.

Try to get your school professionals to evaluate your child for a possible learning disability; then try to get the necessary services. Medication might help the ADHD, but it will not help the learning disabilities.