It is common for someone with a learning disability to be labeled as having ADD or ADHD.

A child may have problems with reading, and the reading problem may not become evident until fourth or fifth grade. Don’t expect teachers or administrators to be well informed about this type of concern. A child can have a reading problem, but the teachers and administrators may think that everything is fine if the grades are good and the standard test scores are within the normal range. They are not trained to look for learning disabilities. What is worse is that administrators are concerned that the child may need extra resources, so they ignore the issue. Often the problem comes to a head in the fourth grade.

Between first and third grades most children learn to read. From fourth grade forward, children read to learn. A dyslexic child will rely on memory to get through school work, and since most students with dyslexia are of above-average intelligence, this works for a while. In fourth grade this becomes almost impossible—there is too much material to read. This is when many students exhibit “symptoms” or behavior problems. They are often drugged.

You may suspect a reading problem, but still be told that your child is fine—the test scores said so. Sometimes the reading scores are just a little below the grade level, but the IQ score may indicate that the child is very intelligent. An intelligent child will make up for a reading problem by memorizing or using other skills and the test scores will look OK. So if you are looking at high IQ scores, but reading scores that are a little below normal—suspect a learning disability.

The child may have trouble spatially recognizing letters and organizing them into sounds. In other words, the learning strategy that works for most everyone else does not work for this particular child. Clues to a future problem occur early. When the child learns to talk, you may have a very hard time understanding him or her. The child may omit syllables from words insert her syllables that don’t belong. 

In preschool, if he or she cannot rhyme words or tell right from left; that may be a clue to a future reading problem. This, along with the earlier language problem, can be clues to a future reading problem.

Another clue is that spelling tests may be a problem (usually around fourth grade). The child may not only misspell the words, but if no one told you, you would have no idea what word he or she was trying to spell. Usually when a child misspells a word you can tell what that word is. Often when a dyslexic child makes an attempt to spell a word that he or she hasn’t memorized, it is very difficult to tell what the word is.

If you suspect a reading problem, you can contact the International Dyslexia Association. It can provide you with information about testing for dyslexia and other learning problems. The association can also help you find a tutor.

Children with learning problems may develop behavior problems or simply let their minds wander. They can become poor students, and it is easy for them to get labeled as ADD or ADHD. Often, instead of getting the help they need to learn, the adults simply drug them—and the grades don’t get any better.