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ADHD Test: Screening for Dyslexia and Related Learning Disabilities

At their very core, the problems experienced by children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are related to learning disorders.  A learning disorder has nothing to do with intelligence; rather, it is a neurological problem that affects the child's ability to receive, process, or communicate information.  Children with learning disabilities hear, see, and understand sensory information differently. The brain has a developmental delay that affects your child's school performance and social functioning.

It is not uncommon for children with ADHD to experience learning disorders like dyslexia (difficulty processing language), dysgraphia (difficulty writing), and dyscalculia (difficulty with math). This is why the UnRitalin Solution screens for learning disorders as part of our testing protocol.  Listed below are some tests and methods used to identify dyslexia and other related learning disabilities.

Intelligence tests

Intelligence testing is the most basic test that rules out or identifies learning disorders in children. In most situations, federal special education requires intelligence testing to diagnose a learning disorder.  Depending on the design of each intelligence test, the results can provide relevant information on how the child handles problem-solving, reasoning, and cognitive functioning.  The interpretations are also crucial in developing educational strategies and treatments for the child.

Two types of intelligence are usually tested: verbal intelligence (the ability to understand and solve language-based problems) and nonverbal intelligence (the ability to comprehend and solve spatial and visual problems).  These tests take many forms:

  1. Individual intelligence tests. These may involve game-like tasks and puzzles, one-on-one question and answer sessions, and timed activities.
  2. Group intelligence tests. These are the traditional paper tests and scoring sheets administered by learning specialists.  Group intelligence tests assess cognitive abilities and academic areas by comparing the child's scores with those of others in his or her group age.  Though group intelligence tests do not identify the specific type of learning disability a child may have, the scores can help determine if further testing is necessary. 
  3. Computerized tests. These are activities and tasks in computer game format that can measure a child's responses to stimuli and comprehension level.

The Dyslexia Screening Test

The Dyslexia Screening Test is considered by many to be the gold standard evaluation for school-age children. The test evaluates which level of reading, writing, and spelling your child has achieved. However, knowing where your child is struggling does not explain why he or she is struggling. This is why this test also has a diagnostic portion that evaluates for various functions and skills known to be affected in dyslexia.

Curriculum-based assessments

These are tests developed by school guidance counselors and educators to examine the progress made by a child when presented with learning materials.  Curriculum-based assessments help teachers and parents determine if the child has problems comprehending the lessons, but are not used to determine if the child should receive special education.

If you suspect that your ADHD child may also be presenting some learning disabilities, ask your school psychologist or counselor to give you a referral to an appropriate specialist.