Discussion ADD ADHD and Learning Disabilities

March 8, 2022
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Discussion ADD ADHD and Learning Disabilities

Discussion ADD ADHD and Learning Disabilities

Examine the etiology of attention-deficit (ADD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) and learning disabilities. What are the common symptoms between these three disorders? Discuss two specific symptoms that occur within attention-deficit (ADD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) and learning disabilities.

ADHD can affect learning, but it is not a learning disability. Some challenging effects of the condition, such as difficulty concentrating and hyperactivity, may impact a person’s ability to learn.

According to most researchers and learning disability organizations, ADHD can affect learning, and many people with ADHDTrusted Source have other learning disabilities. However, because this condition does not influence specific aspects of education, such as the ability to understand language or the written word, doctors do not usually consider it a learning disorder.

Keep reading to learn more about why ADHD is not a learning disability, how it can still affect learning, and some management tips.

Is ADHD a learning disability?

ADHD is not a learning disability. However, some of the symptoms may appear very similar to those of a learning disability. Rates of learning disorders are also higherTrusted Source among children with ADHD, while children with learning disorders are more likely to have an ADHD diagnosis.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)Trusted Source lists the following characteristics of specific learning disorders:

There are ongoing difficulties in writing, reading, arithmetic, math, or reasoning skills during the school years. Additionally, children may have trouble remembering facts, thinking clearly, or writing well.
A person’s academic skills appear below the average range. Here, tests must use culturally and linguistically appropriate testing to qualify for a diagnosis. For example, a child with dyslexia will experience a greater degree of reading difficulties and need to expend greater effort to read than those without dyslexia.
The difficulties must begin during the school years, not later in life.
Another disorder, such as a developmental or neurological issue, must not better explain the symptoms. For example, a child with ADHD may have trouble reading because of difficulties focusing, not dyslexia.
How can ADHD impact learning?
ADHD can impact many aspects of learning. The symptoms of this condition, and their effects on education, may includeTrusted Source:

Reduced executive function: This makes it harder for a person to plan and coordinate their thoughts and actions. An individual may have issues starting assignments, keeping assignment deadlines, and regulating their emotions.
Hyperactivity: People with ADHD may have issues sitting still, waiting their turn, or remaining quiet. This can make it difficult for them to succeed in the classroom. It may also affect relationships with peers and teachers.
Trouble paying attention: People with ADHD may struggle to remain focused in school, which may affect their ability to learn. Attention difficulties can cause a student to experience challenges in performing well on tests, even when they know the material. This is because distraction prevents them from completing the assessment or understanding the questions.
Disorganization: Disorganization can make it hard for people with ADHD to study or prioritize tasks. It can also cause them to miss deadlines and forget schoolwork, affecting grades.
Impulsivity: ADHD can cause impulsive behavior — this can lead to a student getting into trouble at school. It may also lead them to make questionable decisions, such as not studying or doing homework.
Lack of attention to detail: Students with ADHD may rush through tasks or be unable to pay attention to small details. They might, for example, not notice an extra word in a question or fail to read or understand an academic assignment fully.
It is important to note that while ADHD can present challenges, there are also numerous benefits of having the conditions, some of which could even positively impact learning, such as resilience and positivity.

Diagnosis of ADHD and learning disabilities
No single testTrusted Source can diagnose ADHD or a learning disability. Rather, doctors and mental health professionals rely on diagnostic criteria in the DSM-5 to diagnose both ADHD and learning disabilities. Additionally, having just one symptom is not enough — a person must have several symptoms of the diagnosis that interfere with daily life.

Some strategies for diagnosing these conditions include:

Physical and health history: While a physical exam will not diagnose ADHD or a learning disorderTrusted Source, it can rule out other causes, such as a head injury or infection.
Academic history: A healthcare professional may ask about a student’s academic record to assess the areas most difficult for them. For example, a child with good grades who only struggles with reading may have a reading-related learning disorder such as dyslexia.
Neuropsychological testing: A doctor may give several tests to a child to assess their attention, check for specific learning disabilities, and identify thinking or learning differences.
Developmental history: Due to the genetic components in learning disabilities and ADHD, a healthcare professional may ask about any family history of the conditions. To diagnose a child or adult with ADHD, a doctor will want to see evidence of ADHD symptoms across multiple phases of development and in various contexts.
How to manage ADHD and learning
Treating ADHD can help with learning-related symptoms. Try the following strategies:

Educate parents and teachers about ADHD: Support for adults who care for children with ADHD may help them better manage their symptoms.
Experiment with ADHD management strategies: Frequent reminders, calendar apps, a planner, or a special location where all school books go may reduce forgetfulness and stress.
Consider therapy: Psychotherapy can help a person learn to live with ADHD, develop coping strategies, and more effectively advocate for their needs at school.
Consider medication if the person with ADHD is older than 6 years of age: Stimulant medications can help a person concentrate, which may enable them to self-actualize at school.
Embrace a comprehensive treatment approach: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using stimulant medications in children under 6 years of age only when other interventions do not work. A combination of interventions works best at all ages.
Advocate for an individualized education plan: Work with teachers to develop a personalized education plan. Within this plan, advocate for accommodations at school, such as a distraction-free testing environment. Although ADHD is not a learning disorder, people with the condition generally have protection under the Individuals With Disabilities in Education Act, which entitles them to certain accommodations in school.

Seeking help
A person cannot self-diagnose ADHD or any other learning disability — a professional needs to assess their symptoms and rule out other underlying health conditions.

For most families, diagnosis begins with the family pediatrician, who can refer to an ADHD specialist such as a psychiatrist or mental health counselor. An individual can also independently search for their own mental health provider and request an appointment.

Seek help for ADHD or learning disabilities if a person:

thinks they might have ADHD or a learning disability
finds ADHD treatment is not effective
needs special accommodations at school
develops intolerable side effects associated with ADHD medication

Summary
ADHD is not a learning disability, as it does not affect a person’s ability to learn a specific skill set, such as reading, writing, or mathematics.

However, some effects of ADHD, such as difficulty concentrating, can lead to some challenges in learning.

The condition can make learning challenging, but it does not have to put a stop to a person’s academic dreams. People with ADHD can become successful learners and achieve great things in academia.

With the right combination of treatment and support, those with ADHD can thrive even in settings that require close attention and quiet.

ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It has no cure currently, but there are natural treatments that people sometimes may want to try to help them cope with the condition.

Doctors typically diagnose ADHD in children who demonstrate hyperactive and impulsive behavior and have difficulty focusing.

But ADHD can affect adults, too. Where most people lose focus or act impulsively from time to time, a person with ADHD may have more extreme responses more often than others.

Doctors can prescribe medications for ADHD symptoms, but these drugs can have side effects, and they do not always work.

There are natural remedies that people can try, though these may have side effects also. Half Trusted Sourceof all children with ADHD are given alternative treatments in some way, according to studies cited in Neural Plasticity.

However, no natural remedies have been shown to be as effective as medication and behavioral therapies, or a combination of both these.

In this article, we look at some complementary therapies and supplements that may help to reduce or manage the symptoms of ADHD. We also look at the science behind them.

According to studiesTrusted Source reviewed in Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, some evidence supports the use of the following supplements:

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Melatonin: This may help reduce insomnia, but there is no evidence that it reduces ADHD symptoms.
Iron, zinc, and magnesium: These may help if a person has a deficiency in any of these, but more research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of taking supplements.
Omega-3: Fish oils, for example, may help treat symptoms of ADHD, though the effect appears to be small.
The use of any medication, including supplements, carries some risk. Children, in particular, should not take any supplementary or complementary medicine without their doctor’s approval.

Most supplements do not have approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As a result, there is no regulation on the contents, and no official recommended dosage.

People must always check with a doctor whether it is safe to use a supplement or other remedy, and what dosage they should take.

Herbal medicines
Clinical trialsTrusted Source have found that a number of herbal treatments may show promise for treating ADHD. These include:

French Maritime pine bark extract: This plant-based material may increase visual-motor coordination and reduce hyperactivity and inattentiveness.
Ginseng: This Chinese herb may alleviate hyperactivity and inattentiveness.
Ningdong: Another Chinese medicine that may help to reduce some ADHD symptoms.
Bacopa: This traditional Indian or Ayurvedic treatment derives from a plant also known as Brahmi or water hyssop. Studies have suggested it might reduce restlessness and improve self-control.
More, large-scale research studies are needed to find out whether all these natural supplements and medicines are safe and effective.

Researchers also still need to know, for example, how much a person should take and whether the substances will interact with other medications.

People should check first with a doctor before using any supplements or natural medicines, especially if the treatment is for a child.

Some lifestyle practices and activities remain unproven but may help people with ADHD, according to a review published in ISRN Psychiatry in 2012.

These may be better than some other methods if a parent or carer is looking to try them on a child, as they carry little risk.

According to the reviewTrusted Source, some may show the greatest benefits when used alongside established treatments.

Biofeedback or neurofeedback: A professional uses specialist equipment that records brainwave patterns. The results can help a person understand how different activities and reactions affect them. The individual may then be able to adapt their behavior accordingly.

Exercise and relaxation: Yoga, massage, and meditation may help to reduce some symptoms, and regular exercise of any kind can help people cope with stress. Parents and children can do these activities together if they wish.

Connecting with nature: Some studies have suggested that children with ADHD find it easier to concentrate after spending time outdoors in a green space.

There is no evidence available yet about how long a person has to spend in the green space to see improvements, or how long the improvements will last.

Food and diet
People have often suggested a link between sugar consumption and hyperactivity in children. Research in this area is limited, but one studyTrusted Source that looked at the effect on primary school children in Korea does not support the theory.

A review published in 2012 concluded that an additive-free diet might help some people, but researchers note that this will only benefit “selected patients,” and it can be hard to implement.

The possible link between food additives or processed foods and ADHD remains controversial. A study published in 2018 looked at the dietary habits of nearly 15,000 children in China. The researchers found that:

Those who followed a”snack” or “processed” food diet habit were more likely to have symptoms of ADHD.
Those who followed a “vegetarian” diet were less likely to have symptoms.
These diets may have an impact on how often symptoms occur, but, there is no evidenceTrusted Source that the diets themselves caused or improved symptoms.

However, eating a healthful, well-balanced diet with lots of fresh fruits, whole grains, and vegetables can benefit everyone, including those children and adults with ADHD.

Learning new skills
Creating systems for regular activities, such as getting ready for school, can help children with ADHD learn how to recognize and feel comfortable with routines.

Examples of systems might include:

organizing storage for toys and clothes
learning to use calendars, timetables, lists, and reminders
having a regular going to bed and waking up time

Some people believe that essential oils can help relieve or reduce the symptoms of ADHD.

Lavender: A PhD study published by the University of Minnesota in 2014 suggested that lavender can help people sleep. There appears to be little further evidence to support this, although people say that it works.

Vetiver: Findings publishedTrusted Source in 2016 note that rats were better able to focus after inhaling the essential oil of vetiver. Research is needed to see if the same applies in humans.

Rosemary: In 2012, a studyTrusted Source found that people had better scores for speed and accuracy in thinking activities after exposure to the aroma of rosemary oil.

Here, we give some safety tips for those considering the use of essential oils:

Always speak to a doctor before using any essential oils, especially for children, to make sure the oil and the method of delivery are safe.
Always dilute an essential oil with a carrier oil. Ask a doctor what the concentration should be for an adult or a child, as these will be different.
Never apply an essential oil directly to the skin, as it can cause a reaction.
Never swallow an essential oil, as they can be toxic to the body.
Help for adults with ADHD
Adults looking for further ways to cope with their ADHD may want to try the following:

seeking guidance or counseling from professionals to help organize and manage their lives better
combining medication with therapies that focused on trying to change behavior
talking to friends, family, and colleagues about their condition
In cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT, therapists workTrusted Source with individuals to change the way they think, and, through this, the way they behave. CBT has shown encouraging results in trials with adults.

Risks
Treatment for ADHD usually combines medication and behavioral therapies. Some natural and lifestyle remedies can help, but people with a diagnosis of ADHD should follow their doctor’s instructions.

Supplements and natural remedies can affect the body just as prescription or over-the-counter medicines can. These alternative treatments can have side effects and may interact with other drugs.

People should speak to a doctor before trying any new remedies, including supplements, and before stopping any existing medication.

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