A Question on Definitions of ADHD and Dyslexia

Happy New Year!

A member taking the LINCS online course: Learning to Achieve Definitions of Learning Disabilities recently asked the following in the course thread: "Both ADHD and Dyslexia are brain-based, and both are life-long, yet it appears that dyslexia qualifies as a Learning Disability and ADHD does not. Why is this?"

My response to them is below:

The Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) defines ADHD as, "a disorder that includes difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior and hyperactivity."  They go on to point out that,  "although ADHD is not considered a learning disability, research indicates that from 30-50 percent of children with ADHD also have a specific learning disability, and that the two conditions can interact to make learning extremely challenging."

I've heard it explained that other learners (the 50-70 percent who experience ADHD without an accompanying learning disability) don't experience issues with processing visual/written or auditory information.  Therefore, it's not a learning disability.  I've also heard that ADHD is more treatable through medication, which distinguishes it from learning disabilities, which are not.

I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on this member's question.  What helps you distinguish between ADHD and learning disabilities?

Mike Cruse

Disabilities and Equitable Outcomes Moderator