Dyslexia vs ADHD – Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, Prevention

Dyslexia is a learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is described by poor spelling and decoding abilities and by problems with accurate and fluent word recognition.

The word ”dyslexia” comes from two Greek words – ”dys,” which means ”impaired” or ”abnormal,” and ”lexis,” which refers to ”word” or ”language.” In 1896, it was first described by Dr. W. Pringle Morgan.

Children with this condition may have normal intellectual ability and vision. This means that dyslexia can frequently go undiagnosed and unnoticed well into adolescence.

It is estimated that more than 41 million people in the United States are dyslexic, but only 2 million know it. This condition occurs worldwide regardless of culture or language.


The two most important causes of this condition are an out-of-whack central bridge of tissue in the brain and an underutilized left hemisphere. There is also substantial evidence that it runs in families. According to statistics, if someone in a family has this problem, then there are increased chances that other members of the family have it.


Common symptoms may include:

  • struggling with organization and planning;
  • difficulty carrying out a sequence of instructions;
  • understanding information when told verbally, however, having problems with information which is written down;
  • having inconsistent or poor spelling;
  • confusing the order of letters in words;
  • writing and reading very slowly.


Though there is no cure for this condition, early diagnosis and intervention may reduce the symptoms notably. Interventions may include:

  • on-going evaluation;
  • guidance and support;
  • psychological testing. 


Prevention methods include:

  • begin reading to your child as early as possible. A good time to start is from the time he is one month old;
  • nutrition is very important for a child’s proper development. Breastfeed your baby as much as possible. At the same time, try to have a diet with a 1:1 ratio omega 3: omega 6 essential fatty acids;
  • don’t smoke when you are pregnant, nursing, or around your child, because tobacco use can greatly increase the risk of developing a variety of diseases;
  • don’t drink alcoholic beverages while being pregnant since when you drink, the alcohol travels through your bloodstream and crosses the placenta.


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a neurological condition characterized by a consistent pattern of hyperactive impulsivity and/or inattention which interferes with daily activities.


It has a strong genetic basis in most cases, as a person with this brain condition is 4 times as likely to have a parent who was also diagnosed with it. Also, individuals with this condition have lower levels of dopamine (a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s pleasure and reward centers) in the brain.

Other causes include:

  • significant head trauma, especially in pregnancy and birth;
  • a premature birth (when a baby has fewer than 37 weeks);
  • prenatal exposure to tobacco smoke and alcohol;
  • low birth weight;
  • lead toxicity;
  • food additives;
  • the emotional stress of the mother during pregnancy.


Notesigns and symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder become more noticeable when a child’s circumstances change, especially when he starts school. According to the data, most cases are diagnosed when a child is between 6 to 12 years old.

Symptoms Of Hyperactivity

  • frequently talks excessively;
  • often acts as if “driven by a motor;”
  • is often “on the go;”
  • frequently has difficulty engaging in leisure activities quietly;
  • frequently runs about excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate;
  • frequently leaves the seat in situations in which remaining seated is expected;
  • frequently squirms in seat.

Symptoms Of Impulsivity

  • frequently interrupts others;
  • frequently has difficulty awaiting his turn;
  • frequently blurts out answers before questions have been completed.

Symptoms Of Inattention

  • frequently forgetful in daily activities, such as – a routine appointment;
  • can be easily distracted by extraneous stimuli;
  • frequently loses things necessary for activities or tasks;
  • frequently is reluctant to engage in activities that require sustained mental effort;
  • frequently has difficulty organizing activities and tasks;
  • frequently fails to finish chores, schoolwork, or duties in the workplace;
  • frequently does not seem to listen when spoken to directly;
  • frequently has difficulty sustaining attention in play activities;
  • frequently makes careless mistakes in work or schoolwork.


There are steps you can take that may help prevent this condition, including:

  • eliminate potential food allergens;
  • avoid consuming foods that contain food additives (substances added to food and drinks  to enhance appearance and taste, or to preserve its flavor);
  • avoid alcoholic drinks, especially in pregnancy;
  • don’t smoke tobacco;
  • avoid caffeine and other stimulants;
  • avoid lead poisoning;
  • have a regular diet rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids. The best source is grounded flax seeds.


Untreated attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can cause many physical and mental problems which can lead to difficulties in many aspects of everyday life and put a strain on relationships.

There are 5 types of drugs licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder:

  • guanfacine – a sympatholytic drug which works by controlling the nerve impulses along certain nerve pathways;
  • atomoxetine –  a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. It is not a stimulant, that makes it different from the other drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder;
  • lisdexamfetamine – an amphetamine prodrug that is believed to increase the flow of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine;
  • dexamfetamine – a sympathomimetic amine with central stimulant and anorectic activity which has similar efficacy to methylphenidate in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder;
  • methylphenidate –  a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that works by increasing dopamine levels. However, it can be habit-forming.

Note –  in the short term, medical treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may help the sufferer concentrate better. However, over the long term, there are no conclusive studies that these medicines improve relationships, school achievement, or behavioral problems.

Dyslexia vs ADHD – Differences

ADHD encompasses a wide range of behavioral disorders defined by lack of concentration and attention, inability to control impulsivity, and hyperactivity.

On the other hand, dyslexia, even if it frequently occurs in individuals with ADHD, is a completely different condition and is associated with speech problems and problems with learning letters of the alphabet.

Images source – Shutterstock & Getty

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