Difference Between ADHD and Learning Disability (With Table)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Learning Disability (LD) are two medical conditions related to a person, or children who find it difficult to read, grasp information and have behavioural issues.

Children suffering from both conditions require extra care and have to be nurtured with love. They are often overwhelmed with the things around them, and hence they need people who would understand them. Even though both ADHD and LD share some common traits, they differ significantly in many ways. 

ADHD vs Learning Disability 

The difference between ADHD and Learning Disability is that children with ADHD are usually hyperactive. They have sudden outbursts of emotions and energy, and they can continue doing the same movement repeatedly without noticing it. On the other hand, children with Learning disabilities or LD are not hyperactive. They have issues with understanding, listening and interpreting things. They take time to understand something and are often confused. 

ADHD children tend to be confused and daydream. The children may not understand or follow instructions like their peers of the same age. Inability to complete a task leads them to jump from one job to another. Impatience, unintentionally doing repetitive movements of a body part, breaking the queue, speaking out of turn, emotional outbursts, depression, or throwing tantrums are a few examples. 

Children with learning disabilities will have difficulty listening, understanding, interpreting, and following directions. They tend to have issues with their speech, reading, writing and solving problems at school and work. There is nothing wrong with these children or anything abnormal about them. Due to the way their brains are wired, they interpret things differently from other children. 

Comparison Table Between ADHD and Learning Disability 

  Parameters of Comparison   ADHD  Learning Disability 
 Hyperactivity   Extremely hyperactive.   Not exactly hyperactive. 
 Emotions   Have sudden outbursts of emotions.  Might not have sudden outbursts of emotions. 
 Tantrums   They tend to throw tantrums out of the blue.  Do not throw tantrums out of the blue. 
 Impact    Has an impact on more global skills like paying attention or keeping the impulses under control.    Has impact on certain specific skills like reading and writing or speech. 
 Child Psychiatrist   Can evaluate ADHD.  Cannot assess Learning Disability. 

What is ADHD? 

ADHD is the abbreviated form for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. This disorder presents three significant challenges to a child. While performing a task, the child struggles to stay focused or pay attention. In addition, their hyperactivity makes them challenging to control. Learning, memorizing, and recalling becomes a mountainous task for 30 to 50 per cent of children with ADHD

Impatience, unintentionally doing repetitive movements of a body part, breaking the queue, speaking out of turn, emotional outbursts, depression, or throwing tantrums are a few examples. By the age of 4, when the child begins school, ADHD can be diagnosed with certainty. ADHD children also have specific differences in their brain structures, according to neurologists. Specifically, the parts of the brain that are responsible for attention are underdeveloped. 

Dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for mood regulation, movement control, and awareness, appears to be at low levels. These children also have a slightly underdeveloped frontal lobe responsible for social behaviour and learning social skills. Genetics and heredity seem to play a more significant role in affecting boys than girls. Smoking and drinking during pregnancy are also associated with ADHD in children. 

What is Learning Disability? 

LD or Learning Disability are pretty similar to ADHD. However, they are different and should not be confused with each other. This type of disability includes dyslexia (similar letters appear jumbled up), dysgraphia (problems with writing), dyscalculia (probability of difficulties with basic calculations such as time and money telling), and Auditory processing disorder (confusing similar-sounding words). 

If a child has learning disabilities, they will have trouble with specific tasks like listening, understanding, interpreting, following instructions, etc. At school and work, these children have speech, reading, and writing problems. There is nothing wrong with these children or anything abnormal about them. Due to the way their brains are wired, they interpret things differently from other children. 

In preschool, the signs of a learning disorder can be seen when a child has difficulty identifying colours, memorizing the days of the week, learning alphabets, or learning nursery rhymes. It is difficult for older children to read aloud, tell time, do math calculations, spell correctly, express their thoughts aloud, and organise their rooms. Learning is complex for them. 

Main Differences Between ADHD and Learning Disability 

  1. Children with ADHD are found to be excessively hyperactive. On the other hand, children with Learning Disabilities are not that active. 
  2. ADHD children tend to have sudden outbursts of emotions, whereas children with Learning Disabilities do not. 
  3. Children with ADHD can throw tantrums out of the blue. On the other hand, children with Learning Disabilities do not show such symptoms. 
  4. ADHD has a significant impact on a child’s global skills, like paying attention or controlling impulses. On the other hand, Learning Disability has an impact on a child’s specific skills like reading and writing or speech. 
  5. A child psychiatrist is trained to diagnose and evaluate ADHD but not Learning Disability. 

Conclusion 

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Learning Disability (LD) are two medical conditions related to a person, or children who find it difficult to read, grasp information and have behavioural issues. Children suffering from both conditions require extra care and have to be nurtured with love. They are often overwhelmed with the things around them, and hence they need people who would understand them. Even though both ADHD and LD share some common traits, they differ significantly in many ways. 

ADHD presents three significant challenges to a child. While performing a task, the child struggles to stay focused or pay attention. Learning, memorizing, and recalling becomes a mountainous task for 30 to 50 per cent of children with ADHD. Genetics and heredity seem to play a more significant role in affecting boys than girls. Smoking and drinking during pregnancy are also associated with ADHD in children. 

LD or Learning Disability are pretty similar to ADHD. However, they are different and should not be confused with each other. In preschool, the signs of a learning disorder can be seen when a child has difficulty identifying colours, memorizing the days of the week, learning alphabets, or learning nursery rhymes. Learning can also become complex for both adults and younger children with LD. 

References 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6938223/ 
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042811009165 
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