What is the curious relationship between ADHD and Dyslexia?
There is increasing evidence to show a possible relationship between ADD/ADHD and dyslexia.
It is estimated that 20% of the population is dyslexic.
Of that 20%, nearly half present with symptoms of ADD or ADHD.
Why are these two so often seen together? How different are the conditions, and what similarities do they possess?
ADD/ADHD is largely a problem that stems from the frontal part of the brain, the frontal lobe. This region of the brain is smaller than those without ADHD as determined by numerous studies.
Executive functioning, behavior regulation, and organization are all challenges for those with ADHD. Those who present with ADD or ADHD have symptoms that are characterized by:
- Inability to focus
- Inability to sit still
Dyslexia, by contrast, is nothing like ADD/ADHD. It is still widely misunderstood, despite the mountains of peer-reviewed research we now have on it.
Commonly thought of as a learning disability, dyslexia is actually a difference in brain structure. This difference in brain structure causes dyslexics to think about things differently. And similarly to ADHD, dyslexia ranges on a spectrum from mild to profound.
Dyslexia comes with some incredible skills. Dyslexics can think in 3D and they see the whole picture better than the rest of us. Many are especially gifted in various skills such as music, engineering, or even intuition. Still, reading, math, and spelling can be more difficult tasks.
Research has yet to conclude why so many dyslexics present with ADD or ADHD. As diagnostic testing becomes more refined and research builds, the relationship becomes more apparent.
While the two diagnoses are very different, they can have traits that look similar. Is a child struggling to read because they can’t focus? Or are they struggling to read because they are dyslexic?
I’m ADHD and Dyslexic – What Can I Do?
There is no cure for dyslexia, just as there is no cure for ADHD. However, dyslexics can be taught to read, write, spell, and do math – they just need to be taught in a way that they learn. No matter the age, a dyslexic can be taught these skills.
A strong support system or plan needs to be in place. Whatever can be done to make life a little easier can only help the ADHD dyslexic. Medications are helpful for the ADHD challenge. Dyslexia, however, has no medication. However, dyslexics can be taught the skills that they tend to struggle with.
The evidence based method for teaching dyslexics to read is called Orton Gillingham.
It uses a multisensory, logic based approach of teaching reading. This program appeals to different pathways in the brain for language.
Those with dyslexia show rapid improvement in their language skills when taught with these methods.
Find Your Strength
ADD/ADHD and Dyslexia comes with some tremendous advantages.
Many dyslexics don’t recognize their strengths because the world around them has made their weaknesses so pronounced. So too with ADHD.
Find what you are good at – because chances are, you’re EXCEPTIONALLY good at it.