Unlocking ADHD writer Constance Thum explores how dyslexia manifests in children and looks at the overlapping symptoms of ADHD and dyslexia, before proposing tips on dealing with these issues.
Did you know? 50-60% of ADHDers have a comorbid condition. Dyslexia is one of the most common comorbidities. Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability that affects an individual’s reading, writing, comprehension, and speech. Different individuals are affected to different degrees. Comorbid ADHD and dyslexia may compound the affected individuals’ difficulties with day-to-day living.
Dyslexia Symptoms in Children
Symptoms of dyslexia can be spotted in children as early as pre-school. Symptoms include:
- Delayed speech, speech and language comprehension difficulties in preschool children.
- Confusing alphabets and phonics, and/or slow speed with many mistakes in basic spelling tasks in preschool children.
- Disinterest and/or avoidance in learning reading, writing, and speaking skills in preschool and school age children.
- Difficulty in remembering words and numbers.
- Missing deadlines and disorganisation in planning and writing letters, essays, and reports in school age children and teenagers.
- Poor spelling and difficulty in note-taking in school-going children and teenagers.
ADHD and Dyslexia
Inattention and poor organisational skills may be common traits in ADHD-dyslexic children. They may struggle to manage basic tasks and get easily overwhelmed with details, with each condition reinforcing the symptoms of the other.
ADHD is often diagnosed earlier than dyslexia. This is because misbehaviour and emotional outbursts are usually easier to detect than learning difficulties. Learning difficulties may only become apparent at higher levels of schooling, when reading and writing tasks become more challenging. Parents or educators may also assume that a child’s learning difficulties may be due to differences in learning speeds and that students with undetected dyslexia will eventually catch up with their peers.
As a result of their comorbid conditions, ADHD-dyslexic children and youth may develop self-esteem and anxiety issues. Treatment for children with ADHD and dyslexia is critical for a child’s health, well-being and development.
Treating ADHD and Dyslexia
To better support ADHD and dyslexic children, adults may consider the following tips:
- Triangulating help by creating an understanding home, an inclusive school environment and consulting a General Practitioner.
- Enrolling children with more severe dyslexia and/or ADHD in special schools where they can receive proper attention and help.
- Proper medical diagnosis and appropriate medication for ADHD and dyslexic children.
- Encouragement and empowerment of ADHD and dyslexic children.
- Having open family discussions to encourage trust between parent and child. This may reduce feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression.
- Individual and family therapy for unresolvable and persistent child and/or family challenges.
Like ADHD, dyslexia is a vastly misunderstood condition with incorrect preconceptions that create stigma and prevent proper treatment. Speaking up and raising awareness for both ADHD-dyslexic children and their parents may give them relief and help them to manage their conditions, emotions, and struggles. Giving a voice to families with ADHD-dyslexic children may help to create a more inclusive society that considers the needs of diverse individuals.