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ADHD – Autism: Warning Signs for Learning Disabilities

 Learning disabilities. Do you know what they are? Probably. Did you know that 50% of Autistic people have a learning disability? How about 50% of children and adolescents with ADHD have at least one learning disability. Let’s learn about it.

Defining learning disabilities is a challenge. It depends on who’s asking. There are several types of learning disabilities, some more ”famous” than others.

  • Reading (Dyslexia)
  • Writing (Dysgraphia)
  • Math (Dyscalculia)

Within these three, there are different definitions that speak to the environment.

  • Practical terms (umbrella term)
  • Medical terms (DSM-5)
  • Legal terms (IDEA)

Learning disabilities share many signs and symptoms such as ADHD and Autism. They all have differences in the brain. These are similar, and require medical evaluation. These can be done by schools and privately.

ADHD, Autism, and learning disabilities are running 24/7. In school, work, everyday. Symptoms of students who are potential learning disabilities have different and special ways of learning (non-verbal Autism). They show symptoms of late learning. They perceive certain concepts and experience limited learning practices.

  • Problems reading and writing
  • Problems with math
  • Problem staying organized
  • Problem keeping time/telling time
  • Poor memory
  • Difficulty following directions

As many as 50% of students with ADHD and Autism have at one disability. They receive an evaluation for comorbidity (exist simultaneously). Once the learning disability is determined, it continues to manifest into adulthood. Fortunately, there are strategies and interventions to improve their performance.

  • Provide summaries.
  • Integrate vocabulary lists.
  • Slightly alternate reading materials (independent level).
  • Distribute materials ahead of time (extra time to prepare).
  • Give to audiobooks and alternative media.

In both ADHD and Autism, cognitive processes are a serious challenge. Slow to filter down, organize or start tasks. Clusters of executive functions impair individuals with ADHD and Autism.

  • Emotion: Managing frustration, anger, fear
  • Effort: Sustaining alertness, evaluating, processing
  • Action: Regulating monitoring, actions
  • Memory: Using working memory, and accessing recall
  • Focusing: Paying attention to tasks and conversations.
  • Organization: Organizing tasks and materials, estimating time, getting started

Students with ADHD and Autism struggle with even the most elementary level skills. They’re also common with characteristics with “our kids.” Organizations impact family, friends, school and persoal environment. Abstract reasoning does as well. Long-term and short-term memory challenges make school a never-ending challenge, no matter the class.

With more than 50% likelihood, students with ADHD and Autism should receive evaluations of learning disabilities. They will benefit from educational and behavioral interventional. Limiting characteristics will make diagnosis of learning disabilities easier.

Question: Do you suspect that your child has a learnng disability?

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