The Dyslexia and ADHD Connection

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.

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.

“We didn’t even suspect my daughter may have dyslexia,” said one patient’s mother. “We assumed that reading was tough because of the inattentive symptoms of ADHD. Now we realize that it was dyslexia that was exacerbated by the ADHD.”

The 6 Best Infographics About Dyslexia and ADHD

What Reading Really Looks Like When You’re Dyslexic (Infograph) (With …

The 6 Best Infographics About Dyslexia and ADHD

ADHD symptoms are exacerbated by dyslexia, and vice versa. Both ADHD and dyslexia have several symptoms in common, such as information-processing speed challenges, working memory deficits, naming speed, and motor skills deficits. So it is easy for a parent or a professional to mistake dyslexic symptoms for ADHD.

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Does Dyslexia Affect Attention?

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.

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

The Dyslexia and ADHD Connection

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Dyslexia runs in families and has a genetic component. Many children with dyslexia have a dyslexic parent. My wife and I had our own reading challenges when we were younger. The prevalence rate of dyslexia among individuals with an affected sibling is about 50 percent. Dyslexia is a neurologically-based condition, and substantial research has found differences in dyslexic and non-dyslexic brains.

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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.

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

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The 6 Best Infographics About Dyslexia and ADHD

It was almost inevitable that my child would be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Having it myself, and having a family tree full of people with ADHD, I knew my son was another leaf on the tree.

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Interventions for Dyslexia

The rapid naming of letters, objects, colors, and pictures may be impaired. Learning the alphabet is more difficult for dyslexic children. These challenges often coexist with high verbal abilities. A patient, Jack, scored above the 90th percentile in vocabulary and verbal comprehension, but was in the 5th percentile in reading indices. We tend to expect good speakers to be good readers. This is not the case with dyslexics. Other challenges include spelling, cursive writing, foreign languages, and any information that relies on rote memory (phone numbers and so on).

ADHD is usually apparent from the first day of school, whereas dyslexia is often not recognized until fourth or fifth grade, when the shift is made from learning to read to reading to learn. How to tell the difference between ADD and its comorbid learning disabilities, and how to get help.

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About 50 to 60 percent of people with ADHD also have a learning disability. The most common of these is dyslexia, a language-based learning disability that affects reading. Eight to 17 percent of the population is affected by dyslexia, and it is vastly misunderstood.

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ADHD symptoms are usually apparent from the first day of school, whereas dyslexia is often not fully recognized until fourth or fifth grade, when the shift is made from learning to read to reading to learn. Parents who express concern early on are often told by teachers that “every student reads differently and they will catch up.”

Verified Updated on October 28, 2022

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