Difference Between ADHD and Learning Disability
Difference between Learning disability and ADHD
Attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) and Learning disability are two separate entities that can coexist in a child. If a pre-schooler has issues related to reading, writing, completing a task, learning a new task, social skills, making friends or while communicating, he definitely needs help. Some children are fast learners while some are slow. But if a child is much behind in his class and also has certain behavioural issues then he must be tested for learning disability or ADHD by an experienced counsellor or paediatrician. These conditions if diagnosed early can be treated to a major extent. Let us understand each of these conditions in detail.
ADHD – Symptoms
A child with this disorder has three major issues. He has difficulty in staying focussed or paying attention to instructions while performing a task. He is also extremely hyperactive. Around 30-50 percent of the children suffering from ADHD also have learning disability as learning, memorising and recalling becomes a mountainous task. According to a recent data around 9-10% of kids between 3-17 years of age are suffering from ADHD in United States alone. ADHD can be diagnosed with certainty only by the age of 4 when the child begins school.
Neurologists note that children with ADHD have certain difference in their brain structures as well. Those areas of the brain that are responsible for attention are less developed. There is decreased level of neurotransmitter Dopamine which is responsible for mood regulation, controlled movement and attention. Even the frontal lobe that is responsible for social behaviour and learning of social skills is slightly underdeveloped in such children. Boys seem to be more affected than girls with genetics and heredity playing a major role. Consumption of nicotine and alcohol during pregnancy has also been related to birth of ADHD children.
ADHD is of three types
a) Predominantly Hyperactive – Impulsive presentation
b) Predominantly Inattentive presentation
c) Combination of the two
A child with ADHD might be confused and day dreaming. He may not understand and follow instructions like his peers of the same age. He is unable to complete a task and jumps from one task to another. He may be impatient, performs repeated movement of a body part unknowingly, breaks the queue, speaks out of turn, have emotional outbursts, go into depression, or throw tantrums if he doesn’t have his way. He may be fidgety, easily distractible, constantly on the move or speak continuously. Sitting in one place and having a meal or completing his homework becomes difficult. Simple tasks like tying shoe laces, tidying up a room, organising, planning and executing a task etc. are difficult for such children.
The symptoms of ADHD continue through adulthood but they are able to manage their symptoms by that time.
Children with ADHD need to be understood both at home and school. Proper medications, social skill training, behaviour therapy and psychotherapy can help children and parents to deal with this issue. ADHD support groups are a great way for parents to come together, discuss their children’ problems and find a solution.
Learning Disabilities – Problem and Symptoms
Learning disabilities constitute dyslexia (similar letters appear jumbled up), dysgraphia (difficulty in writing), dyscalculia (difficulty in performing simple math calculations, time telling, money matters), Auditory processing disorder (confusing similar sounding words) and visual processing disorder (mismatch between what the eyes see and the brain understands).
A child suffering from learning disabilities will have difficulty in listening, understanding, interpreting and working according to instructions. These children have speech, reading, writing and problem solving issues at school and work. These children are not dumb or imbecile with an abnormally low IQ. They are slightly different from other children as their brain parts are wired a bit differently and so interpret things differently. These kids are actually very intelligent and many of them have become successful entrepreneurs in adulthood.
Signs of learning disorder can be seen right at the preschool stage when the child has difficulty in identifying colours, memorising days of the week, alphabets, learning nursery rhymes or learning new words. Older children struggle with reading aloud, telling time, math calculations, frequent spelling mistakes, expressing their thoughts aloud, organising their room etc. They are slow to learn.
Increasing awareness in parents, teachers and paediatricians have helped in early diagnosis and finding out ways to deal with this problem. Such cases must be handled on an individual basis with the help of a special educator who correctly identifies the type of learning disorder and works towards it. All the care givers must exercise extreme patience when dealing with their wards. All kids with learning disorder have some strengths and hobbies that must be nurtured and appreciated so that they have a good self-esteem.
Children with ADHD or learning disorders must be brought up with a lot of love and care. They are already overwhelmed with the world around them. Parents and caregivers can help them understand their world in a simpler manner and align them with the mainstream.
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