Is ADHD a Learning Disability?

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by Sheila, May 7, 2008.

  1. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    From :

    Is ADHD a learning disability? I’ve been told “no, it’s not.”

    05/03/08 by Wrightslaw

    I’m always a little surprised when we get these questions. So I decided to post on this one. JF writes -
    “I receive your newsletter and I’m not sure if you can help me. My daughter was recently been diagnosed with ADHD. I’ve been told that this is not a learning disability although she struggles tremendously in school (in fact she is in jeopardy of failing). Her diagnosis is so recent that she hasn’t started on any medication as of yet. She is extremely unorganized and has absolutely no time management skills.
    What rights do we have if we request a meeting with her school? Does the school have to give her special considerations when taking quizzes/tests? What about other assignments?
    Any suggestions you have are greatly appreciated.”
    I don’t know who told you that ADHD is not a learning disability. It often is, and kids who have ADHD often have learning disabilities that affect other areas - math, writing skills, etc.

    Seventeen years ago, in 1991, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Office of Civil Rights published a Joint Policy Memorandum on ADD/ADHD to ensure that all school officials were aware of this. The Memorandum stated that children with ADD/ADHD may be eligible for special education services under several existing categories (including Learning Disability (LD), OHI, ED); circumstances under which schools must provide services and supports under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.


    The Memorandum begins with this statement:
    “There is a growing awareness in the education community that attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) can result in significant learning problems for children with those conditions … ”

    In 1997, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was reauthorized. The law specifically stated that children with ADD/ADHD may be eligible for special education services under three categories - specific learning disability, other health impairment or emotional disturbance.

    If you read some of the articles on our ADD/ADHD page, I think you will have a clearer sense of these issues and what you need to do to help your daughter.

    I have ADHD, Pete has ADHD, and so do our (grown) children. Our kids were challenging to raise (and so were we) but they can do fine if adults in their lives accept and help them, and don’t give up on them. The way many public schools are structured can make life very hard for kids with ADD/ADHD.