DYSLEXIA AND THE ADHD CONNECTION
It is a little known fact that if you have Dyslexia you may very likely have ADHD.
Over 80% of those diagnosed with ADHD will have a co-morbid condition. When I work with clients, I look out for the likelihood of my client experiencing other co-morbid conditions such as Dyslexia.
If you have Dyslexia you will be 40% (some say higher) more likely to have ADHD.
Did you know that if you have ADHD you will be 76% more likely to have Dyslexia; up to 30% more likely to have Discalculia. Up to 65% of those diagnosed with ADHD may struggle with written expression, and up to 52% suffer from reading comprehension difficulties. More about ADHD and co-morbid conditions in my book “Own Your ADHD – Discover Your True Potential.” Link at the end of this article.
Do you have Dyslexia or ADHD? Research has found that many of the same areas of the brain are affected in both conditions. The prefrontal cortex, the organ that is responsible for planning, and executing action is affected in both conditions. This may be why it can be difficult to separate the two conditions.
Many people with ADHD and Dyslexia are creative and think out of the box. They tend to have high IQs. They are often only diagnosed later in life because they have learned ways to cover over and manage their ADHD, until they reach crisis point.
The symptoms of ADHD and Dyslexia may cause you to struggle to perform to your academic or professional potential. This often leads to anxiety, lower self-esteem, and depression.
ADHD is one of the most heritable mental health conditions, and one of the most treatable. ADHD is not caused by low intelligence, laziness, poor dieting and poor parenting methods or too much screen time.
ADHD and Dyslexia both make it hard for you to understand what you have read, despite the fact that you may be intelligent. If you have ADHD and Dyslexia your handwriting may be messy but for different reasons.
If you have ADHD or Dyslexia you could be a “dysfluent reader.” This means that if you have Dyslexia you may sometimes misread words, and you may have trouble with reading accurately. If you have ADHD If you have ADHD you don’t usually misread words. You may skip parts of what you are reading. You may get tired, frustrated, and distracted or lose your place when you try to read. If you have both ADHD and Dyslexia you may suffer from both misreading. If you have Dyslexia you will suffer from lack of comprehension because you can’t read. If you have ADHD your lack of comprehension will stem from lack of focus on what you are reading.
While the symptoms of ADHD and Dyslexia may overlap, the two conditions are very different. Some of the signs of ADHD are:
- At times having trouble focusing and at times being able to focus for unnatural lengths of time
- Problems with decision making
- Excess energy, and difficulty staying still
- Procrastination and starting tasks and not finishing
- Working memory deficit and difficulty following instructions
- Difficulty regulating emotions
- Difficulty organising one’s belongings and one’s thoughts
- Difficulty in planning for the future
- Poor time management
- Non-stop bombarding thoughts
ADHD AND ADD
ADD is the same condition as ADHD just without the physical hyperactivity and restlessness associated with ADHD. More boys than girls are currently diagnosed with ADHD. Girls with ADD tend to display fewer external symptoms than boys. If they have ADHD their hyperactive symptoms are often not as pronounced as boys, and are more easily overlooked. Their difficulties are often missed or mistaken for other conditions such as anxiety and/or depression, which could be comorbid conditions.
Caregivers mistakenly assume that these problems will lessen over time. This is not usually the case. Girls with undiagnosed ADD will usually suffer from low self-esteem and mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders that usually get worsen over time.
Girls with ADD are likely to suffer in school, in other social environments and in personal relationships well into their adult lives. Girls with ADD will often fall ‘under the radar’ as they are not physically disruptive. Many do not get diagnosed at all. These problems if untreated worsen over time.
Girls and women with ADD/ADHD are often tragically wrongly diagnosed with depression and anxiety. These conditions may be present, however it is important to understand the ADD/ADHD is usually the dominant condition. In most cases the ADHD condition must be treated first. Mental health practitioners must fully investigate the subtle symptoms in girls.
Many of my female clients are middle aged, having struggled their entire lives with undiagnosed ADD/ADHD. Around middle age they often reach crisis point and realise that their problems are not just laziness, depression or anxiety, but may be due to something else. They usually realise this through reading an article or finding some information on the internet. Their stories are shockingly similar. They relate how their ADHD has been totally missed, even when they pointed out the possibility to their GPs. This has wreaked havoc in their personal and work lives.
SIGNS OF ADHD (IN BOYS)
- Impulsivity, difficulty with self-control
- Hyperactivity, excessive energy
- trouble focusing, paying attention to everything and difficulty filtering one’s focus
- inability to sit still, contantly being on the go
- physical aggression
- talking excessively
- frequently interrupting other people’s conversations and activities
SIGNS OF ADD (IN GIRLS)
- being withdrawn
- low self-esteem
- intellectual impairment in some areas
- difficulty with studies and assignments
- lack of focus or daydreamers
- emotional outbursts
- trouble focusing, paying attention to everything and difficulty filtering one’s focus
- appearing not to listen
- verbal aggression such as teasing, taunting, or name-calling
ADHD is a worldwide disorder. Around 5% of children around the world have been diagnosed with ADHD. A study found that 60% of these children will continue to live with the condition into adulthood. These children will need lifelong support to manage their ADHD. In the remaining 40% of those diagnosed, as the brain matures the condition will manifest as traits that the person will incorporate into their personality
ADHD in the UK is shockingly under diagnosed, and under treated. This has crippling and tragic consequences for the person experiencing ADHD as well as their family.
As of 2018 about 1.5 million adults in the UK are thought to have ADHD, but only 120,000 are formally diagnosed. Surveys of children between the ages of 5 and 15 years found that 3.62% of boys and 0.85% of girls had ADHD. In simple terms, this is 3 boys to 1 girl. These statistics are not completely accurate as more girls than boys have ADD. These numbers will change as more research is being done.
YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE ADHD AS WELL AS DYSLEXIA. WHY YOU SHOULD GET AN ADHD DIAGNOSIS?
You have Dyslexia, and never knew that you could have ADHD as well. Now you are aware of it, what do you do?
The first step toward your successful treatment is to get an ADHD diagnosis. A diagnosis doesn’t define you. It simply puts your symptoms into a labelled box. It separates you from your symptoms. After the diagnosis you are still the same creative, resourceful person as before.
Your diagnosis will open doors for appropriate help and support.
Untreated ADHD impacts all areas of life. ADHD is not fatal, but the untreated symptoms often are fatal. Those with ADHD say that they see their own potential and have a deep desire to fulfil their many goals but get so frustrated as they sense an internal block. This block is real. It is the executive function developmental delay associated with ADHD.
So much can be done to help you with your ADHD. Whether you choose medication for your ADHD or not, getting a diagnosis as early as possible is vital to prevent the emotional damage that sets in with the endless years of failure.
The ADHD situation is slowly changing in the UK. I personally know many practitioners and doctors who are working tirelessly to improve the situation in the UK. These courageous individuals and groups are challenging the government to overhaul and quicken the diagnostic process and treatment for their ADHD patients.
So many clients tell me that they don’t need to get a diagnosis. They just need to work on the symptoms. While I understand them, I always advocate getting a diagnosis.
Consider the following:
Firstly, you may have a totally different condition together with your ADHD that needs addressing.
Secondly, if you live in the UK, and you have an ADHD diagnosis you will have access to government funding to help you manage your ADHD at home and at work, which is called “Access to Work.” Many of my clients get funding for coaching this way.
Thirdly, please understand that getting a diagnosis, labels your symptoms, not yourself. ADHD does not affect your intelligence levels. Professionals agree that getting a diagnosis helps you to accept your situation and move on. Until you do so, you will be held back by your inner critic.
Lastly, navigating life is tough. Why should your life be more difficult just because you have ADHD?
In my experience the clients that got assessed and received a diagnosis moved further towards their goals than those who didn’t go down the assessment route.
Part of this article taken from my book, “Own Your ADHD – Discover Your True Potential.”