Is ADHD a Learning Disability? Does my Child have a Learning Disability or ADHD? Can it be both?

Jun 09, 2023
ADHD not a learning disability
ADHD is NOT a Learning Disability (LD)  ADHD-related behavioral problems make learning difficult. o Patients struggle with learning because of attention abd executive dysfunction.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental/developmental disorder and considered a developmental disability. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 1990; Rehabilitation Act, 1973

 If symptoms are severe enough to interfere with ability to work or function optimally.
 With strict rules/specific criteria and lengthy process, it may be possible to receive disabilitybenefits under US government (Social Security Disability).
 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) does not specifically name ADHD in its definition of a learning disability, but its description of Specific Learning Disability has many similar behavioral symptoms and features of ADHD, and as such, is protected under Section 504 and allows for obtaining appropriate school accommodations.

Learning Disability is also a neurodevelopmental / developmental disorder.
 LD is a general descriptor for specific impairments/deficits in one or more skills that are typically learned/developed, such as reading, writing, and/or math, while at the same time the patient’s overall intellectual ability is not impacted and is at least normal/average.
 LD describes a specific problem in receiving information from the outside world, processing that information internally, or communicating that information.
 Specific LDs include dyslexia (reading disorder), dysgraphia (written expression disorder), dyscalculia (math/calculation disorder), auditory processing disorder (APD), language processing disorder, nonverbal learning disability, and visual perceptual/visual motor disorder/deficit.

50-60% of patients with ADHD also have some type of a co-occurring Learning Disability. Langberg, J.M., et al. (2010), Pediatrics, 126: e1033-e1038.

 Patients with ADHD and LDs have difficulties in academic achievement; underperforming academically; not performing at their optimal intellectual ability level; have difficulties in similar cognitive areas, such as slowed processing speed, and poor working memory.
 Both ADHD and LDs persist to a certain extent into adulthood; if not diagnosed/receive intervention/academic support services early, poor adaptive behaviors develop; if brought to professional attention in adulthood, other co-occurring adult disorders make diagnosis at that time more complicated.
Recommendations: Early comprehensive evaluation, treatment, intervention, and support services is critical for optimal outcomes for both ADHD and Learning Disabilities. Our goal is optimal outcomes…