Most people are unaware of the connection between dyslexia and ADD or ADHD. We are going to take a look at what parents need to know about dyslexia and ADD or ADHD.
It has been estimated that between 30 – 60% of kids with dyslexia also have either ADD or ADHD.
The implications of this are huge. One of the reasons I say this is that for 20 years, I had no idea that some of my kids were not only struggling with dyslexia but also silently suffering with an agonizing inability to focus – even when they desperately wanted to focus.
Because of the rampant myths and misinformation that I believed about ADD and ADHD, I overlooked an issue that has resulted in some serious consequences in my kids’ lives. I don’t want that to happen to your family.
Myths About ADD & ADHD
Myth 1: All kids with ADD/ADHD are hyperactive
Fact: Some children with ADD/ADHD are hyperactive, but many others with attention problems are not. Children with ADD/ADHD who are inattentive, but not overly active, may appear to be spacey and unmotivated. This kind of attention issue is easily overlooked.
Myth 2: Kids with ADD/ADHD can never pay attention
Fact: Children with ADD/ADHD are often able to concentrate on activities they enjoy. But no matter how hard they try, they have trouble maintaining focus when the task at hand is boring or repetitive. Parents may observe their child spending large amounts of time focusing on building with Legos, while being read to or some other activity and wrongly assume that they don’t have attention issues.
Myth 3: Kids with ADD/ADHD could behave better if they wanted to
Fact: Children with ADD/ADHD may do their best to be good, but still be unable to sit still, stay quiet, or pay attention. They may appear disobedient, but they are not acting out on purpose. I’ll never forget hearing Jonathan Mooney speak at an IDA conference about his torturous experience with ADHD in the classroom. “When did sitting still become a moral issue?” This is difficult to accept if you have not personally experienced ADD or ADHD.
Myth 4: Kids will grow out of ADD/ADHD
Fact: ADD/ADHD often continues into adulthood, so waiting for your child to outgrow the problem isn’t a viable option. Treatment can help your child learn to manage and minimize the symptoms.
Myth 5: Medication is the best treatment option for ADD/ADHD
Fact: Medication is often prescribed for attention deficit disorder, but it might not be the best option for your child. Effective treatment for ADD/ADHD also includes education, behavior therapy, support at home and school, exercise, and proper nutrition.
As with the many myths that surround dyslexia, the myths that surround attention issues such as ADD and ADHD can cause a lot of wasted time, misunderstandings and anxiety.
Types of ADHD
The DSM-IV identifies 3 types of ADHD:
- ADHD predominantly inattentive type is characterized by distractibility and difficulty sustaining mental effort and attention.
- ADHD predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type is characterized with fidgeting with hands and feet, squirming in one’s chair, acting as if driven by a motor, interrupting and intruding upon others.
- ADHD combined type has both sets of inattention and hyperactive/impulsive criteria.
Signs of ADD
- doesn’t pay attention to details
- makes careless mistakes
- trouble staying focused; is easily distracted
- appears not to listen
- difficulty remembering things and following directions
- trouble staying organized, planning ahead, and finishing projects
- gets bored with a task before it’s completed
- frequently loses or misplaces schoolwork, books, toys or other items
- constantly fidgets and squirms
- runs or climbs inappropriately
- talks too much
- difficulty playing quietly or relaxing
- always on the go – as if driven by a motor
- may have a quick temper
- acts without thinking
- blurts out words without hearing the whole question
- trouble waiting for turn
- often interrupts
- trouble keeping strong emotions in check – angry or emotional outbursts
- guesses rather than taking time to solve a problem
The Impact of ADD on Learning
Just as it is important for parents to understand what it means to be dyslexic, it is also important for them to understand the impact of attention issues such as ADD and ADHD on learning. Homeschooling a child who struggles to focus on schoolwork or who has trouble following directions or acts impulsively can be frustrating, especially if you mistakenly believe that the child is acting out willfully.
Understanding that a child may desire to sit still and follow directions but be unable to makes the difference between daily life becoming a battle of wills or a power struggle and one of training and making modifications to the class environment and teaching methods.
Our resources page has been updated with some of the top sites to learn more about ADD & ADHD, causes, research and possible treatments. I have also included (below) some of the top books on understanding ADD & ADHD.
Parent Dyslexia Class 6: Executive Function: Teaching Your Dyslexic Child to Organize Their Thoughts, Personal Space and Time
In this class, we’re going to look at:
- what executive function is
- how it executive function weaknesses can affect organizational skills
- and most importantly, how you can teach your SEEMINGLY hopelessly unorganized child to grow in this area.
ADD & ADHD Resources
Visit our Resources page for a list of web sites that provide reliable information on ADD & ADHD.
And for my picks of the best books on ADD & ADHD:
As with dyslexia, getting educated about ADD and ADHD is critical to understanding and educating your children.