What you need to know

5 Common Learning and Attention Issues

By Amanda Morin

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If your child is struggling with attention, reading, math, writing or coordination, it could be due to a learning or attention issue. Here’s a quick overview of five common learning and attention issues.

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Tween boy rolling on the grass playing and laughing
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ADHD: Trouble With Focus and Hyperactivity

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects about 9 to 10 percent of kids between ages 3 and 17 in the United States. ADHD can make it hard for kids to sit still, concentrate, focus and control impulses and emotions. This isn’t because kids with ADHD are lazy—it’s because they have a brain-based medical condition. While the exact cause of ADHD isn’t known, research shows that genetics and differences in brain development and in how the brain processes neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) play a role.

If you think your child is showing signs of ADHD, find out what to do next.

Young girl standing in the playground looking serious
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Dyslexia: Trouble With Reading

Dyslexia is the most recognized and best-researched learning issue. It’s what’s known as a “language-based learning disability” and is sometimes referred to as a “reading disability.” Dyslexia can cause trouble with reading in a number of ways—including trouble with sounding out words, rhyming or understanding a text. But dyslexia can affect more than reading skills. It can make writing, spelling, speaking and even socializing difficult.

It’s important to know that dyslexia isn’t caused by low intelligence or poor vision. It’s a common issue that affects the way the brain processes written and spoken language. Find out what to do if you’re concerned your child might have dyslexia.

Grade school boy doing a math problem at the chalkboard
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Dyscalculia: Trouble With Math

Dyscalculia is sometimes called “mathematics learning disability.” You may even hear it referred to as “math dyslexia.” Dyscalculia causes ongoing trouble understanding and working with numbers and math concepts. But dyscalculia can be missed in the early years because kids learn many basic math skills through memorization.

Although many kids (and adults) have anxiety about math, dyscalculia is not the same thing as math anxiety. Researchers know less about dyscalculia than they do about other learning issues. But they’re looking more at the causes of dyscalculia and ways to help. Find out what to do if you’re concerned your child might have dyscalculia.

Close up of young child gripping pencil and practicing writing letters
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Dysgraphia: Trouble With Writing

Dysgraphia affects writing skills. Kids with dysgraphia may have messy handwriting and may struggle to hold a pencil, draw or form letters. But this learning issue can affect a wide range of writing challenges. Kids with dysgraphia may also struggle to organize their thoughts and express them using proper sentence structure.

Dysgraphia isn’t related to how intelligent a child is. It’s a brain-based issue that can affect kids’ ability to put thoughts down on paper. See the steps to take if you’re concerned your child might have dysgraphia.

Mother encouraging her young son to kick a soccer ball
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Dyspraxia: Trouble With Motor Skills

Dyspraxia causes trouble with planning and coordinating physical movement. It can affect things like fine motor skills (using the small muscles in the hands and forearms), gross motor skills (using the large muscles in the arms, legs and torso), balance, coordination and movement involved with speaking.

Dyspraxia isn’t a sign of muscle weakness or of low intelligence. It’s also more common than you may think. As many as 10 percent of kids may have some symptoms of dyspraxia, such as trouble with grasping a pencil or working buttons and snaps, or struggling with games that require hand-eye coordination. Learn what to do if you think your child might have dyspraxia.

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5 Common Myths About Dyscalculia

If your child is has dyscalculia or is struggling with math, you need quick information to make smart decisions for your child. Here we debunk common myths about dyscalculia to help you separate fact from fiction.

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Family meals and snacks fuel your child for success at home, in class, on the field and beyond. Food can also be the root of daily battles—but a few simple changes could make a big difference.

About the Author

Portrait of Amanda Morin

Amanda Morin

A parent advocate and former teacher, Amanda Morin is the proud mom of kids with learning and attention issues and the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.

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Reviewed by Sheldon H. Horowitz, Ed.D. Mar 03, 2014 Mar 03, 2014

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