How to Deal with ADHD & Dyslexia


Dyslexia is a neurologically-based condition and there are substantial differences in dyslexic and non-dyslexic brains. ADHD may bring the risk for an onset of dyslexia, a vastly misunderstood language-based learning disability affecting around 17 percent of the population. Take that without any prejudice or doubt. You must get your child diagnosed early, period. Sooner you start getting the needed help for your child, the better.

ADHD and Dyslexia
ADHD and Dyslexia are often co-existing conditions in Children

The Connection between ADHD and Dyslexia

ADHD has a high genetic predisposition and a child born of either parents with ADHD has more than 50% likelihood of being diagnosed with ADHD at some point in his/her life. If there’s a family genealogy of ADHD, the chances multiply. The ADHD symptoms can show up as early as from the kindergarten years and a lot of children may also have co-existing ailments; the most common form being Dyslexia. Children suffer from inability to read specific words even when they are taught and this is not because the child with ADHD has a small attention span. This inability to read words according to the age and intellectual levels is often found to manifest into dyslexia, after complete neuropsychological assessments. This condition is true for around 60 percent of ADHD affected children. It is important to note that dyslexia is not the only disorder accompanying ADHD but is among the most common of all learning disabilities for children with ADHD.

What is Dyslexia: Beyond the realms of myths

Popular belief holds dyslexia as a compulsive habit of reading letters and/or words backward. Nothing could be more wrong than that. In reality, Dyslexia has different forms of manifestations and it varies from individual to individual. Dyslexics have also been found to exhibit difficulties with the way words are pronounced; they lack the skill to recognize letters and the way they should be broken down to create the desired sound. In short, they face difficulty in segmenting words. For instance, a dyslexic child will read the word machine as mac-hine or future as fut-ure.

It’s their problem with rhyming and fast, effortless recognition of words in their sight, which affect the rate, accuracy, fluency, and comprehension of subject matter that is read. Even words as simple as ‘the’ may become challenging for a dyslexic individual. And often, they cannot remember the name of simple objects of daily use; for example, instead of fork, some may go for describing the object completely (e.g. the thing we eat meat with). Substituting with incorrect words is also a common practice with these individuals; for example, Mount Fuji is a big tornado (volcano).

Dyslexia and ADHD related learning disorders
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Rapid naming letters and objects, colours and pictures may be impaired in dyslexic individuals as well as difficulty in learning the alphabets. However, such challenges often coexist with high verbal capabilities. For example, a patient named Jack had his scores above 90th percentile when tested for vocabulary and verbal comprehensions but scored only 5th percentile when asked to read indices. This is contrary to the general expectations of a good speaker to be a good reader. Other challenges dyslexics face alongside most commonly are problems with spelling, cursive writing, learning foreign languages and any information that depends on a person’s rote memory, Examples include phone numbers and similar other data.

ADHD & Dyslexia – Differences and Similarities

Following are some of the similarities and differences between ADHD and Dyslexia.


Dyslexia brings about many of the inattentive symptoms of ADHD in children. ADHD worsens dyslexia and the reverse is also true. Both have several symptoms in common. So it is easy to mistake dyslexic symptoms for ADHD. Challenges related to the speed of information-processing, inadequate working memory, deficient motor skills – all are present in individuals affected with either of these disorders.


ADHD symptoms start showing right from the first day of school, whereas dyslexia takes time to be recognized until a child goes up to the fourth or fifth grade, when he/she is supposed to read for learning instead of learning to read. So next time you hear a teacher telling you that every student reads differently and catching up is just a matter of time, maybe you should accept it with a pinch of salt.

ADHD or Dyslexia? How to Spot the Difference

  1. Dyslexic students without ADHD will find it difficult to meet the demands of reading and not maintaining their focus in other situations. In case of ADHD individuals, attention is on an all-time low, especially with environments and tasks they will find uninteresting.
  2. Dyslexia isn’t related to auditory processing; ADHD might be. So that’s another way you can find out whether the child may have ADD or just Dyslexia. Read how to get children with ADHD to focus in classrooms.
  3. ADHD and/or dyslexia gives rise to self-esteem issues and might lead to clinical depression, and may result an affected individual dropout from school. If your child is reluctant about going to the school, you know there is trouble.

Dyslexia: What interventions work?

Assessment, as it is with everything else, is the first essential step. However, this assessment can be for both or either condition. Dyslexia, if goes unnoticed for long, worsens not only reading capabilities but also self-esteem. Here, only a dyslexia expert can help since schools are not always equipped with the right intervention methods like the Orton-Gillingham or the Wilson or the Lindamood-Bell reading intervention procedures.

Guided reading is not an intervention for dyslexia for it has not been empirically validated for dyslexic students. Struggling (non-dyslexic) readers; however, may benefit from it.

Having said that, interest-based reading could significantly improve comprehension capabilities for children with ADHD.

ADHD treatment is for bettering an individual’s overall focus, concentration, and working memory. It’s not going to cure dyslexia. Read, Top 10 ADHD Myths and Facts.

Dyslexic kids feel different because they are; as opposed to their parents’ way of thinking. However, all that matters is that this difference doesn’t show up as inferiority, which it does, mostly due to the vague labels affecting their self-esteem.

Responding to Peer Pressure, Derogatory Comments & Bullying

The best part is, through the right intervention techniques, Dyslexia is very much curable. Walt Disney as well as many other successful people once suffered from Dyslexia. Dr. Albert Einstein was a classic example of a child with both ADHD and Dyslexia coexisting together in varying degrees. It may turn reading difficult, but it definitely increases a person’s smartness with words.

This is what Nature gifts to the ADHD/dyslexic brain. But to fully express and exploit these capabilities, proper assessment and treatment are necessary. The London Cass Business School ran a survey in which, 35 percent of entrepreneurs were found to be dyslexics at some point during their childhood. Dyslexics are more efficient in delegating authority and they excel in oral communications and problem-solving measures.

So, it’s proved that dyslexia and success can go hand-in-hand. Developing an IPP (Ignorance Protection Plan), which shall explain to the affected child that some people thinking incorrectly about his/her intelligence may be unkind, but equally gratifying is the expanse of the individual’s vocabulary. Or, you may highlight out any of the skills the individual possesses.

MUST READ: How to prevent bullying of a Child with Autism

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