LD/ADHD Basics

Five students gathered around a school bookLearning Disabilities (LD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) affect millions of children and adults in school and in everyday life. It is a life-long condition. Fortunately, with the right understanding, support, and appropriate interventions, individuals with learning disabilities can become successful students and adults. Learning the basics about LD and ADHD is an important start to getting help. After the signs and symptoms of LD are recognized, the appropriate assessment and evaluation will be needed to determine the right strategies to help the individual.

Evaluating Children to Determine Eligibility for Special Education Services and Reevaluation Requirements

Evaluating children to determine eligibility for special education services is an issue with which many parents and educators struggle. There are many factors to consider during a comprehensive evaluation of a child for possible eligibility for special education services. It’s important that parent(s) know their rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), understand the process, and ensure their child receives the appropriate services. School districts need to provide parents their procedural safeguards (rights) guaranteed under IDEA before a full and individual initial evaluation takes place. When a child receives special education services for an extended period of time,… Read More »

A Learning Disability is Only One Part of a Child

When a child is born, it is usually a time of joy for the whole family. How new parents respond to this new little person is influenced by many factors. Some feelings revolve around how comfortable parents are in taking care of the child, whether the child was wanted, and whether the child is welcomed into an intact family. The personality of the infant as defined by Chess and Thomas is also a factor. Some are easy, contented babies, others may be fussy. Tactilely defensive babies, who do not want to be held, may cause the mother to question her… Read More »

Adult Learning Disability Assessment Process

If you are an adult and suspect that you have a learning disability (LD) you may be at a loss about how to obtain testing and the assessment process. This article will explain what is a learning disability assessment for adults, why should someone be assessed, who can conduct an assessment, how much an assessment might cost and what are the questions to ask a qualified assessor. It is important to choose a qualified professional to conduct the assessment so that it can be done thoroughly and assure that you obtain the accommodations necessary in school and in the workplace.… Read More »

Medications for ADHD/ADD

ADHD is a neurological disorder resulting from a deficiency of a specific neurotransmitter in specific areas of the brain. This transmitter is norepinephrine or one of its building blocks, dopamine or dopa. Any medication that increases the level of this neurotransmitter in the areas of the brain involved with ADHD will significantly reduce the behaviors associated with ADHD. This article reviews the medications currently available to treat ADHD. The group of medications called “stimulants” are most successful in treating ADHD. (They are called stimulants because they stimulate nerve cells to produce more of the deficient neurotransmitter not because they stimulate… Read More »

The Role of Psychotherapy in the Treatment of ADHD Through the Lifespan

Within the healthcare professions, there has been a movement towards the use of evidenced based or scientifically validated treatments. This movement is reflected in mental health care as well. However, the first wave of empirically supported treatment research has focused rather narrowly on efforts at relieving the specific symptoms used to define diagnosed conditions. While this is certainly a valid means of assessing treatment effectiveness, there are other benefits to be derived from treatment, particularly for individuals with chronic neurologic or medical conditions. For example, we would not argue that someone with a terminal medical condition could not be helped… Read More »

Epilepsy and Learning Disabilities

If one area of the brain is wired differently, it is not uncommon that other areas of the brain will be wired differently. The relationship between epilepsy and learning disabilities is but one example. Epilepsy, also called seizure disorders, is characterized by recurrent seizures. It is associated with structural or biochemical brain abnormalities. It is estimated that 1% of the general population has epilepsy. This disorder occurs more commonly in boys than girls. About 40% of individuals with epilepsy between the ages of 4 and 15 have one or more additional neurological disorders. The most common ones are intellectual disabilities,… Read More »

The Concept of ADHD Is Changing. How Does This Impact You or Your Child?

The concept of inattention, one of the three behaviors found with ADHD, is changing. And, with this change, the explanation of what is ADHD is expanding. The understanding of inattention has shifted from the inability to stay on task to a broader concept called Executive Function Disorder (EFD). This expansion of the concept of inattention is a positive move. However, until a fuller understanding of  EFD is part of the thinking of the clinicians who diagnose and treat individuals with ADHD, only part of the problem might be seen, leaving other results of EFD not addressed. Marcus, a ten-year-old fifth… Read More »

Why Are There So Many Different Medications to Treat ADHD? Or, Are There That Many?

ADHD is a neurologically-based disorder resulting from a deficiency of a specific neurotransmitter or group of neurotransmitters in specific areas of the brain. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals in the space between nerve cells (i.e., in the synapse) that transmit signals from one nerve cell to the next. The primary neurotransmitter involved is called norepinephrine. Two of the building blocks needed to produce this neurotransmitter, dopa and dopamine, are also involved. The purpose of the primary medications used to treat ADHD is to stimulate specific cells within the brain to produce more of the deficient neurotransmitter. Because of this role, these… Read More »

Changes in DSM 5 and its Impact on Individuals with Learning Disabilities

The “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual” or DSM is a manual for use by physicians as well as other health and mental health professionals. Its purpose is to provide clear descriptions of diagnostic categories in order to enable medical clinicians and investigators to diagnose, communicate, study, and treat people with specific disorders. With each revision of this manual, new knowledge has permitted the diagnostic criteria to become more specific; thus, enabling further clarity of the disorder. The American Psychiatric Association (APA), in collaboration with other mental health organizations, updates the criteria for mental disorders, which includes  Learning Disorders, Motor Skills Disorders,… Read More »

Eligibility: Determining Whether a Child is Eligible for Special Education Services

When is a child’s eligibility for special education and related services determined? In most states the eligibility of a child for special education and related services is considered when a child has arrived at the Tier 3 level of RTI (Response to Intervention). When a child has been in Tier 2 for a pre-determined amount of time and an evaluation is given, then a meeting is called to determine eligibility for special education services. Who makes the decision about whether a child is eligible for special education and related services? The parent of the child and a team of qualified… Read More »

Graphic Organizers

What is a graphic organizer? Graphic organizers are visual thinking tools that make pictures of your thoughts. The pictures demonstrate relationships between facts, concepts, or ideas, and guide your thinking as you design the map or diagram. People who have learning disabilities are often visual learners and thinkers. That means they understand and remember information better when ideas, words, and concepts are associated with pictures, diagrams, charts, and maps. Why use graphic organizers? Graphic organizers can help to visualize and construct ideas, organize and/or sequence information, plan what to write, increase reading comprehension, brainstorm, organize problems and solutions, compare and… Read More »