Difference between adhd and dyslexia

Dyslexia and ADHD: Similarities and Differences

Written by Kris Martins

In this Article

  • The Dyslexia-ADHD Link
  • Symptoms: Similarities and Differences
  • Get Support

ADHD and dyslexia are different brain disorders. But they often overlap. About 3 in 10 people with dyslexia also have ADHD. And if you have ADHD, you’re six times more likely than most people to have a mental illness or a learning disorder such as dyslexia.

But having ADHD doesn’t mean you’ll get dyslexia. Nor does dyslexia cause ADHD.

The two conditions can have similar symptoms and risk factors. This sometimes can make it hard to tell them apart.

The Dyslexia-ADHD Link

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that can make it hard for you to process written and spoken language. ADHD affects your impulse control and focus and makes you prone to hyperactivity.

They share some common traits.

Heredity. Both conditions can run in families. About half of people with ADHD have a relative who also has it. That’s also true about 30% of the time for dyslexia.

Brain features. The brains of people with ADHD and dyslexia are physically and chemically different from those who don’t have the disorders. For example, the brains of children with ADHD tend to be a bit different and may be less active in certain areas, or brain chemicals called neurotransmitters don’t work as usual. Brain images of people with dyslexia show the left side of their brains may be less active.

Risk factors. Certain things can raise your chances of having either ADHD or dyslexia or both. They include:

  • Exposure to cigarettes and alcohol during pregnancy
  • Low birth weight

Being around toxins such as lead is a possible cause of ADHD but not for dyslexia. A stroke or other brain damage could lead to dyslexia.

Symptoms: Similarities and Differences

No two people with ADHD or dyslexia have the same symptoms. But the two disorders can show up in similar ways.

Reading difficulty. This can be a symptom of both conditions. But it can look different for each. People with dyslexia tend to take longer to sound out words on the page. Or they might misread the words. ADHD also may slow your reading speed. But you’ll usually read accurately. Instead, you’re more likely to skip over punctuation and endings or lose your place on the page.

Trouble writing. Dyslexia can make it hard to spell, proofread, organize, and use grammar correctly. If you have ADHD, you might find that organizing your thoughts and spotting errors in your writing are the biggest challenges. People with both conditions find it hard to write neatly.

Forgetfulness. Adults with dyslexia tend to mispronounce people’s names, have trouble recalling places, or mix up similar words. But ADHD can make you more forgetful in everyday life. You might skip important appointments, misplace your keys, or have patchy memories of your childhood.

Attention issues. Reading can take so much effort if you have dyslexia that it can tire you out. That makes it hard for you to concentrate for very long. ADHD is partly an attention disorder. It’s easy to get distracted or to tune out. This is especially true when your task is boring or repetitive, or if you’re reading or listening to someone speak.

A key difference with ADHD is that it can affect your life in much wider ways than with dyslexia. Unmanaged ADHD can lead to missed deadlines and other problems at work, conflicts with your loved ones, and a hard time managing your money, and other everyday responsibilities.

Get Support

Both ADHD and dyslexia are covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). You can ask your employer for reasonable accommodations to do your job, such as extra time to prepare for projects. Some people may not qualify for ADA protection, depending on how severely your symptoms interfere with your work.

Dyslexia and ADHD: Knowing The Difference

Jeannette | Posted on |

Dyslexia and ADHD are two neurological characteristics that can impede learning. The signs of ADHD and dyslexia can be difficult to distinguish at times, as both can cause difficulties with reading and writing. However, while the symptoms may look similar, the underlying causes are very different.

Dyslexia is a type of learning problem that is caused by the brain. It impairs a child’s linguistic ability, making it challenging to read, punctuate, decode, and understand words. As a result, compared to other children of the same age who do not possess dyslexia, their reading, vocabulary, comprehension, and general knowledge are minimized. Remember that dyslexia does not constitute a sign of intelligence. The majority of dyslexics have normal and adequate intelligence.

ADHD is a disorder that impairs executive functioning skills, such as working memory, flexibility, and self-control. This may make managing your everyday activities difficult. ADHD can also impair your ability to concentrate in class or at work. ADHD could also impact managing emotions and make it challenging. ADHD patients might be hyperactive or aggressive.

ADHD and dyslexia are identified to co-occur frequently. Moreover, individuals with ADHD are more likely to have a learning disability than those who do not have ADHD. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, dyslexia is the most common learning disability.

Similarities of dyslexia and ADHD:

Dyslexia and ADHD share several characteristics, including:

  • Both conditions may be inherited. The majority of people accrue ADHD as compared to dyslexia
  • Both disorders can make learning, reading, or organizing your thoughts more challenging
  • ADHD and dyslexia could make it difficult to pay attention
  • They can exacerbate difficulties in communicating with others
  • Both enable you to become more innovative in your thinking and artistic capabilities

Differences between dyslexia and ADHD:

Since both ADHD and dyslexia are neurobehavioral disorders, it can be difficult to distinguish which difficulties are related to which. ADHD is concerned with attention, and dyslexia is concerned with reading; the characteristics may appear similar. Here are a few examples to illustrate further.

  • Distraction:

People with ADHD and dyslexia could appear distracted; however, the cause of the distraction differs. A person with ADHD may appear distracted because it is challenging to focus, whereas a person with dyslexia may appear disturbed because reading requires a lot of effort and their energy has run out.

  • Fluency:

Proficient readers are capable of comprehending with accuracy, relative speed, and expression when reading aloud. A person must be able to read fluently to understand what they have read. An individual with ADHD may struggle to read, but they get lost or skip between the lines because their fast brain has moved on to the next section. Dyslexic people may not be fluent readers because they spend too much time sounding out every word or reading terms correctly.

  • Writing:

Writing skills can also be difficult. Someone with ADHD may struggle with organization and editing, and proofreading, whereas a dyslexic individual struggle with grammar, spelling, pronunciation, organizing concepts, proofreading, and writing. A good way to distinguish between the two cases is to recall that dyslexia problems typically manifest themselves during writing and reading activities. In contrast, ADHD symptoms manifest themselves in a variety of settings and are more behavioral.

Diagnosis of ADHD and dyslexia:

ADHD and dyslexia are diagnosed differently and commonly by different specialists. ADHD is classified as a mental disorder and can be diagnosed by a psychologist, therapist, neurologist, or some family physicians. Dyslexia is a condition that is frequently identified by educators, who also may refer the person to a physician or psychologist for further evaluation and diagnosis. A clinical psychologist, school counselor, educationist, or neuropsychologist typically diagnoses dyslexia. Dyslexia ranges from light to severe, and people with ADHD are no exception. This means that two individuals will not have the same symptoms.

Improving outlook with ADHD and dyslexia:

One of the most challenging things for individuals with ADHD and dyslexia is feeling good about themselves. Their self-esteem and confidence are frequently low as they find it difficult with activities that their peers find those simple. Here are three ways you can help.

Identify: It helps people when they know they have a disorder with a name, such as ADHD or dyslexia. They acknowledge why they behave the way they are, and this prevents them from looking for answers for themselves, which are frequently terms like “I am stupid” or “I am dumb.”

Effort, not outcomes: Instead of outcomes, give your acquaintance reviews on the efforts they put into a task. A person with dyslexia and ADHD must work even harder than other students, but their efforts are not always rewarded in the form of an expected outcome. Knowing that you appreciate their efforts makes a significant difference in their self-esteem.

See Also: Dyslexia and Adhd

Seeking help:

When learning about dyslexia and ADHD, one of the most common messages is that ‘early intervention is critical.’ Of course, timely screening of any disorder is beneficial. However, if you discover you have dyslexia or ADHD, do not feel guilty. It is never too late to get checked and receive the necessary treatment.

ADHD and dyslexia may co-occur. Though in the case of children, it may appear challenging when your child receives their early assessment, with the right tools and support, your child can learn to lead a fruitful life. You can help your child by ensuring that they receive scientifically proven interventions and learning how to assist them at home. They are more likely to succeed when learning is made enjoyable. A person with ADHD has a poor capacity for things that are not fascinating to them or that they do not feel are valuable. You want to protect them from being irritated because they would shut down if frustrated.

How are ADD, dyslexia and hearing loss related?

  • Inattentive, inattentive, or incapable children may appear to be so because they have difficulty understanding spoken language.

  • Areas of the brain responsible for processing sensory information develop earlier than those responsible for concentration and attention.

We invite you to read a summary of Dr. Martha Burns' webinar "How are ADD, NSV and dyslexia connected?" ADHD) has become a serious cause for concern and controversy, both among parents and scientists. But new research shows that for many of these children, these symptoms may actually indicate more fundamental problems with understanding and processing speech. nine0003

Despite the fact that attention is closely related to the processing of sensory and language information, these functions are located in different areas of the brain. Attention is primarily controlled by the frontal lobe, which is responsible for many higher cognitive functions such as planning and organization. This area of ​​the brain develops slowly and matures by the age of 20. Thus, children and adults with ADD show lower levels of activity in the frontal lobe of the brain. nine0003

Sensory processing is concentrated in three areas located in the back of the brain, namely the angular gyrus, where auditory, visual and spatial information are combined. These areas of the brain develop at a much earlier age and play an important role in language acquisition. One of the most important skills is the ability to recognize the internal details of words so that we can distinguish "goat" from "scythe" or "bird" from "pizza". Listening to the speech of our native language, our brain builds an acoustic map of this language, namely the sounds that we learn to reproduce and correlate with visual symbols. nine0003

Hearing impairment occurs when there is a failure in the formation of acoustic maps, which makes it difficult to recognize parts of speech. It is important to clarify that this is not a problem of hearing impairment, that is, the ears hear sounds, but the brain is not able to process and understand them correctly. However, blockage of the auditory canal due to a cold or long-term infection in the ear can lead to impaired auditory perception, affecting the sensitive period of development. Such disorders may also have genetic roots. Children whose relatives have been diagnosed with dyslexia also show difficulties in processing speech and weak activity in the sensory areas of the brain, even before they begin to learn to read. nine0003

Although the attention function is located in the frontal lobe of the brain, it uses neural connections formed in other areas of the brain. This is where the connection between NSV and the problem of concentration of attention arises. The function of attention includes the ability to focus on what is important at the moment, processing sensory information from the environment. However, it is impossible to determine what is really important if it is not part of your database. Thus, there is difficulty in concentrating on speech when there is difficulty in separating one sound from another or from other sounds in the environment. nine0003

As a result, children with hearing loss may develop symptoms similar to those of ADD: they are easily distracted, do not participate in joint activities, or have difficulty following instructions. Teachers may consider such children inattentive, incapable, destructively influencing other students, while they try to concentrate attention, but do not understand what they are being told, and at some point they simply stop listening. These children are often diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, which treatments are unfortunately not suitable for them. nine0003

But there is good news too! Neuroscientists have developed a computer technique for correcting auditory perception disorders, which is called FAST FORWORD. The programs of this technique have also been shown to be effective in addressing the problems of attention deficit and auditory processing associated with NSV, as well as in addressing the root causes of dyslexia!

For more information, please watch the webinar by Dr. Martha Burns: “How Do ADD, Dyslexia, and Auditory Processing Disorder Overlap?”. nine0003


5 tips for stress-free homework

Prepare in advance for homework

Study what your child is currently learning at school and prepare in advance to quickly help your child with homework. This approach is especially effective with math assignments. A great source for finding material are, for example, YouTube channels that will help you learn new or repeat material you have forgotten. nine0003

Use a multi-sensory approach

Help your child deal with restlessness while doing homework by increasing their stamina. For example, offer him to chew gum or replace the chair with a yoga ball, or let him stand if he wants. Invite the child to walk around the room and think aloud about what he needs to write, or give him an elastic band that he can touch and stretch, filling the need for constant movement. Do a fun workout together, brain gymnastics, preferably combined to use the whole body and waste as much energy as possible. For children who are distracted by sounds, offer a quiet place or allow them to wear noise-canceling headphones. nine0003

In addition to all this, remember to avoid quarrels. Tug of war only requires two people, so don't pick up your end of the rope.

If your child is showing signs that he is tired, such as reduced concentration, yawning, or losing his mind, ask him what he needs to do to get back to homework. Offer to eat or go to the bathroom. Sometimes the child himself says that he needs a break. Time for five or ten minutes to give him a brain break. Control yourself and don't show negative behavior. nine0003

"It's not just a difference in learning skills," Entin says. "Our brains are wired differently. It's wrong to think that a child with dyslexia's problems in reading and writing are due to his unwillingness to put in the effort."

Parents often point out certain qualities in their children that evoke a sense of closeness and warm nostalgia for their own childhood. Noticing these qualities, the parent feels proud. We feel close to someone and connected, understood. nine0003

But what is the opposite of this? What happens when our children experience problems through no fault of their own that make them feel anxious, ashamed, or helpless, all three of which cause as much trouble in the present as perhaps in the past? Entin's advice is: "Put your own oxygen mask on before you help someone else."

  • Allow yourself to ask for help. Whether it's another parent, a teacher, a mentor, a friend, or even an online dyslexic support community, there's never a shortage of help. nine0003

  • Tune in to your child and watch their responses more than their reactions. Use sentences with an emphasis on yourself ("I"). “I see you are yawning” and after that ask the question: “What do you need to do now so that you can continue to study further?”.

Using these methods will allow you to develop a better relationship with your child and family relationships in general - not just for homework, but for the whole day.

Learn more