Learning disabilities are the leading cause of special education among most children and adults. These disabilities are often overlooked and marginalized, especially in underdeveloped countries. They are also usually associated with a poor prognosis due to late diagnoses. Most learning disabilities include trouble following instructions, poor memory, impaired writing or reading, and problems staying organized or oriented (Horsthemke, 2021). Common warning signs of a learning disability include poor concentration, difficulty learning reading and new words, pronunciation problems, and delayed speech. Learning disabilities may be diagnosed by the presence of the mentioned clinical manifestations and confirmed by a standard achievement test (arithmetic, writing, and reading) and an intelligent test (IQ test) (Lovett & Nelson, 2021). Many families and medical practitioners often attribute the signs of learning disabilities to other causes and do not consider conducting comprehensive investigations to rule out learning disabilities (Horsthemke, 2021). People with learning disabilities have a right to inclusive education provisions in most countries. This paper will review crucial elements of learning disabilities concerning attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a psychological disorder characterized by impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and difficulty paying attention. Poorly managed ADHD may lead to low self-esteem, poor school or work performance, and unstable relationships (Horsthemke, 2021). Symptoms of ADHD are often present from early childhood and may persist to adulthood. The symptoms of ADHD are, however, often unclear, and individuals are usually diagnosed later in life. The management of ADHD differs in children and adults and often includes pharmacologic interventions, management of underlying causes, and psychological counseling.
Historical Aspects of ADHD
ADHD has been a topic in medicine and education for several decades. Early scientists and doctors such as Sir Alexander Crichton, a Scottish doctor, conducted a study in 1798 and established a disparity in the ability of students to focus on a specific activity or learn (Lovett & Nelson, 2021). ADHD was initially referred to as a hyperkinetic reaction of childhood. The disorder was later, in the 1960s, recognized as a mental disorder (Harrison et al., 2019). It was clinically recognized as attention deficit disorder, classified as with or without hyperactivity.
Clinical Manifestations of ADHD
The clinical manifestations of ADHD often reduce with age but may persist in a few cases, thus causing substantial impairment in an individual’s daily functioning. The symptoms may range from severe to mild but often include difficulty paying attention, restlessness, and impulsiveness (Lovett & Nelson, 2021). ADHD is unnoticed among most adults and is often mistaken for difficulty conducting daily tasks. Other symptoms of ADHD include; poor time management tendencies, prioritization and organization problems, frequent mood swings, poor planning, elevated restlessness or activity, raised temper, and problems coping with stress (Lovett & Nelson, 2021). The persistence of symptoms consistent with ADHD may severely disrupt an individual’s life and impair their ability to function. Students learning is also adversely impacted and requires special learning aid or clinical interventions.
The Etiology of ADHD
There is no known definitive cause of ADHD. However, studies attribute the onset of ADHD incidences to factors such as;
Developmental Issues – issues involving the central nervous system during crucial stages in an individual’s growth and development are thought to affect their learning ability adversely.
Environmental Factors – ADHD is associated with exposure to traumatic or unhealthy environmental factors in the early stages of life.
Genetics – studies indicate elevated incidence rates among families with a known history of ADHD. This indicates the involvement of genetic factors in the onset of the learning disability.
Other significant etiologic and risk factors include premature birth and prolonged exposure to environmental hazards or toxins. Mothers who smoke or take alcohol during pregnancy have also recorded increased chances of having children with ADHD and other learning disorders.
Educational Implications of ADHD
ADHD impairs the learning capacity of the affected students by adversely affecting their ability to pay attention, focus, put effort into school activities, and listen to their peers and tutors. ADHD makes students restless, disruptive, talkative or noisy, and fidgety (Lovett & Nelson, 2021). Students diagnosed with ADHD often present with slower learning capabilities and poor performance in their schoolwork. Teachers are usually among the first to identify ADHD cases among students since most of them are admitted and start school before their learning disability is identified or diagnosed (Harrison et al., 2019). Teachers must raise concerns about the affected students to their parents or guardians and advocate for a medical or professional evaluation to confirm the ADHD diagnosis.
Upon diagnosis of ADHD, teachers may improve the students’ learning ability by helping them stay organized, limiting distractions in their learning environment, allowing learning breaks, employing technology to enhance their concentration, encouraging them through positive feedback and reinforcement, tailoring assignments and instructions for the affected students, and giving them extra time on tests and evaluations (Harrison et al., 2019).
ADHD among students and other individuals may cause severe disability if not managed promptly and appropriately. However, employing necessary educational, psychological, and pharmacological interventions may significantly reduce the presenting symptoms and improve their quality of life. The main problem presenting among ADHD students is often late diagnosis and a lack of a conducive learning environment and conditions. Therefore, this calls for better health education and awareness among parents and teachers on the warning signs of ADHD and how to support students.
Harrison, J. R., Soares, D. A., Rudzinski, S., & Johnson, R. (2019). In single-case design research, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders and classroom-based interventions: Evidence-based status, effectiveness, and moderators of effects. Review of Educational Research, 89(4), 569–611. https://doi.org/10.3102/0034654319857038
Horsthemke, K. (2021). Diversity and epistemic marginalization: The case of inclusive education. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 40(6), 549-565. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11217-021-09764-x
Lovett, B. J., & Nelson, J. M. (2021). Systematic review: Educational accommodations for children and adolescents with attention-deficit/Hyperactivity disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 60(4), 448–457. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2020.07.891