Dyslexia and ADD ADHD: How to Help When they Co-Exist

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Dyslexia and ADD/ADHD

Students face many challenges in today’s world. For example, the demands put on them by the high state standards. Imagine having dyslexia and ADD/ADHD. Think about the struggles that students who have both of these conditions face on a day-to-day basis. Let’s briefly take a look at both of these conditions.

For those who have dyslexia, they have a very hard time reading. They may read letters or words backwards. Dyslexia is a learning disability which affects a person’s ability to read properly. People with this condition may also have a hard time understanding symbols as well. There is no cure for dyslexia. The treatment for this disability is special education. Students with dyslexia are usually placed into a learning support classroom where they can receive the appropriate modifications and specially designed instruction in reading.

For those who have attention deficit disorder, ADD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, they face many challenges in the classroom as well. They are unable to hold attention and have a very hard time staying on task. Students with the hyperactivity are also extremely active and hyper as well. In the classroom, they are unable to sit still for long periods of time. They also are usually very unorganized and start new activities before finishing others.

How to Help in the Classroom

Now that you know what the two conditions are, how can we help students who have both of these conditions in the classroom? First, it is important for these students to receive a lot of one-on-one instruction. They will greatly benefit from receiving that extra attention from the teacher. Another idea is to use materials that are user-friendly. Try to eliminate distractions as much as possible as well.

Imagine, for a moment, that you have a hard time reading and you have a hard time focusing. What would you need to help you be more successful? What comes to my mind is reducing the amount of material that has to be read. Sometimes students are required to read a lot of material, but is it really necessary? For these students, try to only have them read the minimum amount of material. Remember how much of a struggle it will be for them.

Another great idea is to read as much as you can to these students, but don’t read too much at once. Once you have read something, have the student speak the information back to you to make sure they were paying attention. The other piece of advice I can give is to be patient. These students have a big hurdle to jump when having the two disabilities together.

Students who have dyslexia and ADD/ADHD are faced with more challenges than we can imagine. As teachers, our job is to make their job of learning as easy as possible. We need to try to remove as many obstacles out of their way. By doing some of the things mentioned, hopefully they will pay attention a little more and find it easier to read as well.

Disclaimer: As a teacher of students who have these conditions together, all of the above information is from experience. No outside resources have been used.