Not a Broken Bone #Dyslexia #ADHD #LD

December 01, 2017

Each week (probably every day) of my professional life, I grapple with the concerns that parents bring to me.  Usually, they involve questions of learning disability, dyslexia and ADHD/ADD.

Why grappling?

I mean, I’ve been in this business a while.  Shouldn’t it be a piece of cake?  Just give the kid the equivalent of the “Dyslexia or ADHD X-Ray,” and wisely pronounce while scratching my beard, “Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, your child is dyslexic,” or “Your child is ADHD and needs to be on medication.”

Ah, to be so wise.  Life would be so much easier and clearer.

Not for me.  I live in the gray zone where things are rarely clear cut.

Young Marla, age 9, is a lovely and spirited child, but she is starting to get on people’s nerves.  Singing at inappropriate times during recess, chatting a little too much during quiet periods in class, others’ patience toward her is starting to wear thin.  In short, Marla is getting a bit annoying and people (parents and teachers) are raising the ADHD question.

I meet Marla and can see some of the areas of concern – she’s a bit too hasty on different tasks when she should be thinking a little more deliberately. She’s a little too exuberant. Rating scale data completed by parents and teachers are elevated on the ADHD factor, but not all that much. So, is she “disordered?”  Certainly, most neurologists would have called her so with little hesitancy.

Perhaps this 9 year old does not need to be on medication, though. Perhaps she needs a little more time to grow up?

Then there’s George, age 8, who is having some difficulty with reading, spelling and writing.  I evaluate George and find most of his scores clustering in the dreaded “average range,” a little left of strict average, but not all that alarming.  I see he has some trouble with reading, spelling and writing and his phonological processing scores are also tilted to the left side of the curve, but not all that much.

So, is he “dyslexic?”  Is he disabled?  When I tell parents that he may not be dyslexic and that with some focused instruction the gap may close, they almost seem disappointed.

I certainly understand the movement (#saydyslexia) to bring awareness of dyslexia forward and to more comfortably use the term and we are now in the decade of dyslexia. (For the longest time dyslexia had Voldemort status and was “that which should remain nameless.”)  But I still maintain there are many kids who show signs of struggling with reading, spelling and writing who may not be dyslexic.

Takeaway Point

Learning disabilities, ADHD, dyslexia are just not broken bones that show up on an X-ray.  It’s often falling in the gray zone.

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All comments (4)
  • Luqman Michel
    December 01, 2017 at 8:31 pm

    "When I tell parents that he may not be dyslexic and that with some focused instruction the gap may close, they almost seem disappointed." Could this […] Read More"When I tell parents that he may not be dyslexic and that with some focused instruction the gap may close, they almost seem disappointed." Could this be because of privileges extended to dyslexic kids, I wonder. I believe at one time parents would shun away from calling their kids dyslexic. Read Less

    Reply
  • Caroline Hilhorst
    December 02, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    What about diet? In the late 80, in South Africa, I had my son and a foster child both 8 giving teacher's problems so much […] Read MoreWhat about diet? In the late 80, in South Africa, I had my son and a foster child both 8 giving teacher's problems so much so that they wanted them on Ritalin. We were directed to a doctor who assessed them and advised us to put them on what she called 'the Cave man's Diet'. In other words they could have nothing in their diet that contained preservatives or colouring. So nothing that came out of a factory. Not even bread. During school recess our foster child went to his grandmother we he was fed what ever he wanted. when he returned to school, the teacher complained again. we asked her to bear with him as it took about 3 weeks for the forbidden stuff to work out of his system. Our son who was kept on the diet had no further problems of what we would proberbly call ADHD, today. Read Less

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