I’m confused about the ADHD and learning disabilities. I’ve heard some people say ADHD is a learning disability and some people say it isn’t. Which is it?
ADHD isn’t a . But it can affect learning. Schools know this and have developed different kinds of classroom supports to help children who struggle with attention.
law covers 13 kinds of conditions. Learning disabilities is one of the 13 groups. Another group is called “Other Health Impairment.” This is the group that covers ADHD.
This means that kids with ADHD may be able to get an Individualized Education Program (). But here’s where things can get confusing. To qualify for an IEP, a child’s ADHD has to significantly affect learning or school performance.
So what’s the difference between ADHD and learning disabilities? A learning disability makes it hard to acquire specific skills such as reading or math. ADHD impacts more global skills like paying attention and controlling impulses. (It’s tough to do well in any subject if you can’t focus on the lessons, homework, or tests.)
Here’s another reason some people are confused about ADHD and learning disabilities: It’s common for kids to have both. Some studies suggest that nearly half of children who have ADHD also have a learning difference.
The important thing to keep in mind is that schools have many ways to help struggling students learn more effectively. This is true for kids who have ADHD, learning differences, or both.
Learn more: Find out how ADHD affects learning at different ages.
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About the author
About the author
Bob Cunningham, EdM serves as executive director of learning development at Understood.