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More Than Just ADHD: Could Dyslexia Be a Factor?

June 09, 2021

So, you received the ADHD diagnosis and you’re finding what helps your child best manage their symptoms. You’re seeing improvement in some aspects, but they’re still shying away from reading.

Now what do you do?

It could be more than just ADHD. Your child may also have dyslexia. Dyslexia and ADHD are comorbid and can often mask the trademark symptoms of the other as presentations may be mild, or they may be more severe.

Both ADHD and dyslexia are neurodevelopmental disorders that can be hereditary, which means they affect brain activity and the chemical messengers, neurotransmitters. The tricky part is that they share many of the same symptoms, such as distraction, difficulty reading and writing, forgetfulness, and inattention.

Knowing the way in which these symptoms manifest is helpful in discovering exactly what your child may be dealing with. One main differentiating factor is the situations these symptoms typically arise in.

If the symptoms manifest solely when reading or writing is involved, it may be dyslexia. If the episodes are more widespread, it is more difficult to determine where the ADHD ends and the dyslexia begins, if dyslexia is indeed a factor. In the case of a child with both ADHD and dyslexia, it can be more challenging to uncover, especially as the child is taught how to cope with their ADHD, which inadvertently helps them compensate for their dyslexia.

In ADDitude’s article, “How My Son’s ADHD Masked His Dyslexia for Three Decades,” Carol Barnier mentions several signs that are more easily overlooked that could indicate dyslexia is a factor as well as ADHD:

  • Trouble learning to tie shoes — or any activity requiring a strong right/left understanding
  • Trouble telling time on an analog clock
  • A struggle with rhyming
  • Extremely messy bedroom or desk
  • A history of chronic ear infections
  • Delayed speech
  • Difficulty memorizing any sequence of steps (assembling something, steps in a cleaning task, math)
  • A great gap between verbal abilities and writing abilities

Brett and Jessica Bartel, the brains behind Accentrate®, have dealt with this situation personally. They say, “We are very familiar with how difficult it is to identify the problem accurately as our son is both ADHD and dyslexic. Fortunately for us, there is a school in our neighborhood that only teaches children with dyslexia and is specifically tailored to help dyslexic children learn to read and write. Additionally, there are many programs and tutors that can help.”

If you’re wondering if your child may be struggling with both ADHD and dyslexia, consulting a psychologist and getting examined is always a great first step. As mentioned in Barnier’s article, there are many programs available that can assist those with both ADHD and dyslexia. It can be extremely frustrating at the beginning, but there are resources to help and the journey can be so rewarding to see your child thrive.

Feel free to send us your questions and reach out for more information! We’ve been there and are happy to help.

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