or Learning Differences:
if their child’s behaviors are “normal” or possibly
diagnostic of ADHD or other problem.
Professionals begin their investigation by asking
if a child often: fails to give close attention to
details or makes careless mistakes; has difficulty
sustaining attention; does not seem to listen when
spoken to directly; does not follow through; has
difficulty organizing; often avoids tasks requiring
sustained effort; loses things; easily distracted;
forgetful, fidgets; leaves the seat; runs or climbs
excessively; has difficulty being quiet; talks
excessively; blurts out answers before questions
have been completed; has difficulty awaiting turn;
or interrupts others.
A parent’s response to the above questions is
just the beginning. This checklist is not diagnostic
in and of itself since a professional evaluation also
includes an extensive personal and family history
including developmental, medical, academic, social,
and psychological as well as several checklists and
some form of objective data.
When to question ADHD?
When a child’s inattention or physical symptoms
are consistent over time and significantly different
than his/her peers.
- Great difficulty remaining seated
- Many excuses to go to the nurse/bathroom
- Intolerance of boredom
- Always physically doing something
struggles and can be accompanied by a learning
difference, saddness, and anxiety most commonly.
Language disorders, reading disorders, and reduced
processing speed are frequently associated with ADHD.
Crawling, walking, or other motor skills,
talking, toilet training, sensitivities to texture,
sound, light, touch, or taste
Bangs head, rocks back and forth, repetitive
lines, takes a long time to complete tasks
Any struggles with:
Spelling, filtering out background noises,
pronouncing words or names
Left and right or telling time,
how to read or write letters/numbers
Inconsistent eye-contact, few or no friends
What should a parent do to figure out if their
child is struggling with a learning difference
either with or without ADHD?
neuropsychological evaluation is needed. This is
necessary because there is no one test such as
blood test, MRI or brain scan that can determine
what a child’s cognitive functioning is. A
neuropsychological evaluation measures abilities
on many standardized tests which are then compared
with an age-matched and sometimes “grade-matched”
normative sample from the general population allowing
professionals to learn about a child’s intelligence,
working memory, learning skills, general organization,
processing speed, language processing, word retrieval
difficulties, visual spatial integration, motor skills, attention
and more. It is important to know that one cognitive skill
cannot be fully understood without a comprehensive
assessment of the whole person’s functioning.
an assessment of final scores but a close examination
of how one approaches tasks, why particular strategies
are chosen, and ultimately why certain errors are made.
• Measures change over time by allowing professionals
to chart progress and calculate levels of improvement or decline.
• Helps to understand strengths and weaknesses and
provide a sense of how an individual learns optimally
which guides treatment specifically designed for the individual.
• Cognitive Tests measure global intelligence which allows
professionals to determine general expectations for an individual.
• Memory functioning is assessed by evaluating short and
long term memory and ability to recall verses recognize
material while comparing differences between types of
information such as auditory vs. visual.
• Processing speed provides the opportunity to understand
the speed at which a person completes various tasks from
reading to complex standardized tasks.
• Language processing is assessed by evaluating
expressive and receptive language skills, quality of
verbal output, and word retrieval skills. Visual spatial
processing and integration are assessed as well as
• Attention and executive functioning are assessed by
determining abilities in divided attention, sustained
attention, visual and auditory attention and attention
for tasks that are simple and more complex.
• Academic skills which considers skills such as spelling,
phonological processing, reading decoding, reading
comprehension, rate of reading vs accuracy, math abilities
when completing calculations vs word problems, spelling.
• Psychosocial functioning assesses emotional states
and any psychiatric conditions that be present as well
as the level of worry, anxiety, and/or depression on ones