ADHD and Reading Difficulties-Are They Related?

Besides focusing on ADHD, the month of October is also Dyslexia Awareness Month.  Isn’t it interesting that these two conditions affecting so many children should share a month of study and discussion so early in the school year?  How are they connected?  If your child is diagnosed with one of these, does it mean he or she will also struggle with the other?  Where can parents turn for help and information?

It’s important to note that ADHD is considered a medical condition and is often diagnosed much earlier than Dyslexia, which is labeled a learning disability.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 6.4 million children in America have ADHD.  Of that number, 50 to 6o percent also have a learning disability.  The most common learning disability is language-based and research supports that as many as 20 percent of the population have some degree of Dyslexia, which runs in families.

Dyslexia happens to be the most widely studied of all learning disabilities and has been the subject of attention since the 1920’s.  Samual Orton, a physician who devoted much of his lifetime researching Dyslexia, has long been considered the pioneer in this subject.  When Anna Gillingham, an educator and psychologist met Dr. Orton, they continued a partnership of research and educational practice which resulted in the Orton-Gillingham approach to reading remediation.    As a member of the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators, I specialize in teaching struggling readers to read, spell and write following a comprehensive, evidence-based approach that is explicit, systematic and cumulative.

Because children are seen one-on-one, the approach to lessons is diagnostic and prescriptive, according to the child’s individual needs.  As a member of the New Hampshire division of the International Dyslexia Association, I can attest to the efforts at education and awareness to which this organization is dedicated.  IDA makes available much information about Dyslexia, including the following page that succinctly provides information about both Dyslexia and ADHD:  Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) and Dyslexia

In an effort to aid parents seeking answers about both ADHD and Dyslexia, I offer the following for your consideration.   Here, Jacqueline Sinfield writes about “Understanding Dyslexia and Its Relationship to ADHD” (Nov. 2017).  She points out the effect both conditions have on executive function skills and how they play into a child’s self-esteem.  Understanding Dyslexia and Its Relation To ADHD

This summer, Keith Low wrote about “Reading Comprehension Challenges for Children with ADHD” (July 2018) and how working memory deficits contribute to both.  Reading Comprehension Challenges for Children With ADHD

Finally, Roberto Olivardia, PH.D. offers an emotional and personal account of his and his son’s experiences with Dyslexia.  The ADHD-Dyslexia Connection

For children who may have ADHD and/or Dyslexia, there is a great deal of hope for a positive future!  Some of the world’s most successful individuals in every walk of life have dealt with these conditions.  As October delights us with colorful leaves, pumpkins and treats, take advantage of the information and resources available.  If you suspect your child may have a need for testing, call our office at Portsmouth Neuropsychology Center.


Linda Martin, M.Ed., CAGS, AOGPE