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What Is the Relationship Between ADHD and Dyslexia?

A child with ADHD playing.
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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 April 2014
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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia are linked in two main ways. Both conditions often occur together and are usually noticed in childhood when children have issues doing schoolwork. ADHD and dyslexia also have many of the same symptoms and one condition can be easily mistaken for the other, making a thorough evaluation necessary.

Both of these conditions are considered to be learning disabilities. They both cause issues with concentration, focus, and information processing. Dyslexia, however, affects mostly reading comprehension and math skills while ADHD can have an impact on nearly every part of one’s life. Patients with both disorders may have severe problems with processing information, especially when reading.

There is some evidence to suggest that both ADHD and dyslexia are caused by similar problems within the brain. Those who are dyslexic may have problems processing written information, so they must be taught using multi-sensory tools in order for them to learn properly. People with ADHD also have difficulties processing information, although it is more often due to a lack of concentration, rapid thoughts, and an inability to sit still. The conditions may occur together, compounding a person’s learning difficulties.

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Medication may be used in the treatment of ADHD, and both conditions are treated using certain teaching methods which combine reading with audio and visual learning techniques. Interventions of this kind should be started as soon as possible, since ADHD and dyslexia are normally diagnosed during early childhood. Patients with either or both conditions are generally of average or above average intelligence.

Sometimes ADHD and dyslexia can be confused for one another. This is happens most often in a dyslexia diagnosis since it is more difficult to diagnose. Many doctors assume that symptoms involving a lack of focus and trouble processing information is ADHD, but these things can also be caused by dyslexia. The main difference between the two is that dyslexia does not cause hyperactivity, and it generally only affects the processing of verbal and written information. Other methods, such as visual displays, are generally understood more clearly.

Occasionally ADHD and dyslexia will not be diagnosed until the patient is an adult. Although it can be harder to teach older individuals new ways of learning, it is not impossible. Many adult sufferers are relieved to have a name for their symptoms after many years of not understanding the problem. Special courses are sometimes available for adults with learning disabilities.

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Discuss this Article

anon356866
Post 4

@serenesurface: Can you tell me what was the name and the author of the article you read? Thank you!

literally45
Post 3

I wonder what the connection is between causes of ADHD and visual dyslexia? Because I heard that people with ADHD usually have no problem reading and writing.

serenesurface
Post 2

@fBoyle-- According to a report I read, less than half of children with dyslexia have ADHD. If dyslexia leads to ADHD, then this wouldn't be the case. So I don't agree with you.

Like the article said, the connection between ADHD and dyslexia in children is that they both arise from the same part of the brain. That's why they are sometimes seen together.

fBoyle
Post 1

I personally think that dyslexia leads to ADHD because the child has trouble understanding information or has trouble reading and writing. If a dyslexic child is not shown patience and doesn't receive special care, he or she can easily get distracted and frustrated. So I think it's normal for dyslexic kids to experience ADHD.

The sad part is that the school system and teachers sometimes contribute to this because they don't realize that the child is dyslexic. I know people who were not given dyslexia treatment until high school!

These kids are often labeled as dumb or lazy which makes them stubborn, distracted and unhappy at school. Any child who goes through this can experience ADHD and other problems in my opinion.

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