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ADHD and Dyslexia Awareness – The Importance of Assessment

by Eddie Rayner

The start of the new school year is always nerve-wracking; everyone is adjusting to school timings and getting back on their feet. While this can be exciting, it can also throw problems up as children start new classes or new stages. It may be that parents and teachers might begin to notice difficulties with academic skills or attention and focus. If these difficulties are significant and persistent and appear to be impacting the child’s ability to keep up with their classmates and keep up their grades, it may be a sign of a learning disability or ADHD. As ADHD and Dyslexia awareness days are approaching (1 and 7 October, respectively), parents and teachers should consider following through with an assessment to get a more thorough understanding of the difficulties that the student is facing. 

Sonia Singhal, a psycho-educational assessment expert at Thrive, says: “The upcoming ADHD and Dyslexia Awareness days in October are crucial because they highlight the progress that has been made in how these difficulties are perceived and understood. Although biases may still exist, there is a much greater appreciation, recognition and understanding of the experiences that individuals with these difficulties face. Raising awareness also improves the likelihood that individuals with these difficulties may feel more encouraged to get a diagnosis and treatment and that support and interventions may be more available and accessible to them. I would also like to highlight the importance of obtaining a formal assessment from a qualified professional to get a diagnosis and not relying upon self-diagnosis, media trends or easily accessible online diagnostic options.”

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neuro-developmental disorder characterised by symptoms that are split into two categories: inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity. On the other hand, dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent reading and spelling.

A psycho-educational assessment involves a standardised set of tests that evaluate a child’s intellectual and academic abilities

What is a Psycho-educational Assessment?

A psycho-educational assessment involves a standardised set of tests that evaluate a child’s intellectual and academic abilities. It measures overall aptitude and academic achievement around core skills, such as reading, writing and math. It involves several techniques, including pencil and paper activities, question and answer items, verbal responses, and the evaluation of motor skills and visual-spatial skills (e.g., completing tasks using blocks, and identifying missing pieces in a pattern or puzzle). It also includes clinical interviews (with parents, teachers, and other relevant professionals), observations, historical records and questionnaires, to help understand a child’s learning style and how they process information. The purpose of the assessment is to identify a child’s profile of strengths and difficulties, to determine if there are any underlying cognitive or learning difficulties, or if the child has advanced abilities, and to provide strategies to support them. 

A psycho-educational assessment involves a standardised set of tests that evaluate a child’s intellectual and academic abilities

What is an Assessment for ADHD?

An assessment for ADHD includes the same components as a psycho-educational assessment and has additional components, which provide a broader and in-depth analysis of how a child thinks and behaves as it relates to attention and focus. In addition to intellectual and academic testing, it also includes an evaluation of the child’s learning and memory, executive functions, attention, planning and mental flexibility. An important component of an ADHD assessment is the collaborative information gathered from parents and teachers to determine whether the symptoms of ADHD are present across more than one environment. 

Effects of ADHD and Dyslexia on Families

If left untreated, ADHD and Dyslexia can negatively impact families. For example, parents of children with ADHD often start doubting their parenting abilities and can become incredibly frustrated. Also, siblings of children with ADHD face particular challenges like learning to adapt to their sibling’s disorder and thus may face a loss of attention they may receive from their parents as they grapple with supporting their child with ADHD. In families that are experiencing ADHD, there can be additional incidents of behavioural difficulties and parenting a child with ADHD can be difficult. As well as this, parents whose children have dyslexia can be at a loss when their child is not succeeding in school, family members can be frustrated due to various reasons – a lack of understanding about what’s happening, not understanding the disability, not knowing where to begin to find help.

For more information, please visit www.thrive.ae