Learning disabilities (LD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are lifelong challenges. LD and ADHD are the result of neurological differences in brain structure that affects the ability to receive, process, store, retrieve and/or clearly communicate information.
Causes of Learning Disabilities and ADHD
The root cause of learning disabilities and ADHDare attributed to many different factors. Learning disabilities maybe inherited from family members who have similar issues and challenges. They may also occur as a result of injury to the developing brain during pregnancy, at birth or post natally. Examples of brain related injuries include concussions, poor nutrition, drug and alcohol use, toxin exposure, and diseases/illnesses.
Additionally, we know that individuals who have diagnosed or undiagnosed LD and ADHD typically struggle with academic underachievement. They may also experience behavioral and/or social emotional challenges, suffer from low self-esteem and poor self-confidence. Repeated academic and personal failures, along with poor understanding of their challenges only adds to the frustrations. The key to success is early identification and appropriate intervention.
Early Identification of LD and ADHD
LD and/or ADHD are difficult to identify mainly due to false beliefs, assumptions and opinions regarding the student’s challenges. Difficulties recognizing and identifying LD and/or ADHD may result from:
- confusing LD symptoms with an intellectual impairment, autism and/or sensory integration impairments. that LD and/or ADHD are the result of poor or inadequate
- the belief that LD and/or ADHD is the result of poor or inadequate parenting, lack of adequate parental support, an unstable home environment, sheer laziness, lack of motivation and effort.
- Second language learning situations.
Consequences of a Wait and See Approach
In light of these beliefs, the potential early warning signs of LD and/or ADHD are often dismissed and a wait and see approach is taken. Often, there is the expectation that the child will eventually outgrow the challenges once cognitive maturity kicks in. Consequently, any persistent challenge that remains is usually justified and explained away. A 2010 American study (TremaineFoundation.org) found that approximately 15% or more of school aged children struggle with unidentified and unaddressed learning and/or attention issues.
Key to Success: Early Intervention
Regrettably, this wait and see approach only serves to exacerbate the student’s situation. It also raises any potential for co-morbid behavioral issues and emotional distress. Since the key to success is early identification and intervention, students are better served, if parents, teachers and/or administrators viewed the situation through a different lens. To begin this process, the following questions might prove helpful:
- “Why is this student not performing as well as other students in his/her peer group?”
- “Why is everyone else in the student’s age group or class succeeding?”
- “What are some possible factors that might be contributing to the student’s current difficulties?”
The Take Away
An investment in a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the source of the problem is critical. An understanding of the student’s challenges will undoubtedly outweigh any persistent and lifelong negative outcome that awaits a misunderstood student, his/her family and society as a whole.