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"Genius?...Nothing!...Sticking to it is genius!... I’ve failed my way to success."

– Thomas Edison, famous inventor with dyslexia


How common are language-based learning disabilities?

It is currently estimated that nearly 20% of the US population struggles with learning disabilities. Learning disabilities negatively impact academic and social success in childhood. In adulthood, they can negatively impact success in the workplace. Of the learning disabled population, it is estimated that 80% have specific impairments in the areas of reading and written language. Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading, writing, and spelling difficulties.

How do I know if my child has a language-based learning disability?

If your child frequently exhibits many of the common symptoms at home and school, as outlined in the SYMPTOMS portion of the website, we encourage you to discuss concerns with your child’s pediatrician and teacher(s). If you or your child’s teacher feels your child has potential beyond his performance in school, a language-based learning difference may be the underlying factor. A screening or comprehensive evaluation is the best way to confirm or rule-out a language-based learning disability.

What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a specific language-based learning difference that is neurobiologically based in origin that often runs in families and is not necessarily correlated with motivation or intellectual abilities. The majority of individuals with dyslexia demonstrate average to above average intelligence. Dyslexia is characterized by deficits in phonological processing abilities, resulting in impaired reading, writing, and spelling acquisition. Dyslexia affects individuals of different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, and affects males and females equally.

Is there a cure for dyslexia?

No, dyslexia is life-long. However, with proper diagnosis, effective treatment, tenacity, and emotional support from family and teachers, individuals with dyslexia can achieve great success in their academic as well as occupational careers. There is significant evidenced-based research that indicates students who receive structured, multi-sensory, phonics-based instruction demonstrate profound improvement in the areas of reading, writing, and spelling.

What is Auditory Processing Disorder?

Auditory processing is what we do with what we hear. Auditory Processing Disorder impairs the ability to interpret or process words or sounds correctly. Even though the words are heard correctly via the ear, the brain does not process them completely or accurately. In other words, the brain does not make sense of what is heard. Auditory processing disorder is defined as the impaired ability to attend to, discriminate, or comprehend orally presented information even though the individual has hearing and intelligence within normal limits. Loud environments, background noise, distorted speech, and poor acoustics can exacerbate the symptoms. Auditory processing deficits can range widely in severity levels. There is a prevalence of auditory processing deficits in children with a history of chronic ear infections.

What is Attention Deficit Disorder?

Attention Deficit Disorder is best understood when the condition is categorized into three subtypes:

1) Hyperactive-Impulsive Type (inattention is typically not a symptom).
2) Inattentive Type (hyperactivity-impulsivity are typically not symptoms).
3) Combined Type (demonstrates both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity as symptoms).

Children with ADHD (hyperactive and combined type) are typically diagnosed earlier in their school career simply because their symptoms (hyperactivity-impulsivity) manifest louder. Children with ADD (inattentive type) are quiet daydreamers that can be easily overlooked or misunderstood as “spacey” or “slow-moving”. Not only is the inattentive type easy to overlook, but it’s hallmark – inconsistency, makes it confusing for parents and teachers to understand. Children with the ADD-inattentive type demonstrate tremendous difficulty maintaining attention to task (with wandering thoughts occurring continually), especially with tasks involving reading or listening comprehension, in addition to those involving new concepts. For this reason, these tasks are grossly avoided, and often result in penalties for incomplete work or excessive, careless mistakes with little attention to detail. These same children however can exhibit the ability to HYPERFOCUS, especially when their interest level is high or time pressure (“feeling under the gun”) is fueling their adrenaline and promoting intense focus. For this very reason, children and adults with the inattentive type of ADD are infamous for being procrastinators and “waiting for the eleventh hour” to complete a project.

Regardless of the subtype, AD(H)D can negatively impact performance in school, social interactions, as well as behavior. The child needs to receive support, understanding, guidance, and in some cases, medical management in order to maximize success. Professionals who are trained in the differential diagnosis of AD(H)D include developmental pediatricians, behavioral neurologists, as well as pediatric psychiatrists and psychologists. Discussing your concerns with your child’s teacher(s) and pediatrician is usually the best first step. Your pediatrician will guide you in the diagnostic process.

Will a diagnostic “label” negatively impact my child’s sense of self?

Often times, parents are concerned about the negative impact diagnostic labels bring to their child’s psyche. Generally, in our opinion, we feel diagnostic labels are far less damaging than the self- deprecating labels children put on themselves when they continually fail and do not understand why (“I’m stupid,” “I’m a failure,” “I can’t do anything,” “Everyone hates me.”). Awareness and understanding of self, helps the child self-advocate and promotes the development of his identity as a learner.

Why is it so difficult to distinguish Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) and Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder (ADHD)?

The subjective nature of diagnosis for both disorders, coupled with the significant overlap in symptoms inevitably can lead to confusion. We have worked with children who exhibit pure AD(H)D symptoms, those who exhibit pure APD symptoms, and those who exhibit a combination of both.

Children with APD may demonstrate attention difficulties; however, this is not the primary symptom of APD. The primary symptom is difficulty processing and responding to auditory information. The auditory breakdown usually occurs with long and complex auditory information, and is especially exacerbated in the presence of background noise. For instance, a teacher might say, “The computers and printers were donated by the school board” and the child with APD processes an entirely different message, such as, “The teachers and principals printed the school pictures.” When distinguishing the two disorders, it is helpful to remember that APD impacts only auditory attention and comprehension, not any of the other sensory systems.

For children with AD(H)D, the inattention occurs across all sensory systems-auditory as well as, visual, tactile, and olfactory. For instance, their attention can be negatively impacted by the air conditioner turning-on (auditory), a screen-saver turning on (visual), itchy tags on clothing (tactile), or a floor that has just been cleaned with ammonia (olfactory). These distractions may impact all of us to some degree; however, we have the capacity to rapidly return our attention to our work. The child with AD(H)D turns his attention to the source of distraction and stays there. When the air conditioner turns on in the classroom, the child with AD(H)D may look at the A/C vent, notice a water stain on the ceiling tile, which may in turn remind him of the time he and his father fixed a plumbing leak in his home, and so on. The child with AD(H)D has to fight to keep his mind from wandering. Many times, the majority of the message has already been presented before the child realizes his mind wandered. This can be devastating on a child’s academic progress, especially if the majority of the curriculum is presented orally. When distinguishing the two disorders, it is helpful to remember that the child with AD(H)D does not have difficulty processing auditory information. The child can process incoming information– if he is tuning-in.

In summary, children with AD(H)D have difficulty listening because it is difficult for them to maintain their attention on what they are hearing. Children with APD are listening but it is difficult for their brain to make sense of what they are hearing.

What are Autism Spectrum Disorders?

Autistic Disorder, or Autism is a developmental disability that negatively impacts the development of social skills, language, as well as, the body’s ability to integrate and appropriately process sensory input. Autism is neurological in origin, affecting individuals of different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, and typically manifests during the first three years of life. Autism is known as a spectrum disorder because of the varying combination of symptoms and varying degrees of severity. The umbrella term for autistic spectrum disorders is Pervasive Developmental Disorders – PDD – describing the pervasive nature of impairment that can occur across several developmental areas. Autism is one of five disorders that falls under the umbrella of PDD. Each of the five disorders contains specific differential diagnostic criteria. The five disorders under the PDD umbrella include:

1) Autistic Disorder
2) Asperger’s Disorder
3) Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
4) Rett’s Disorder
5) Pervasive Development Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)

While language impairment is often found in the majority of children with autistic disorder, many children with Asperger’s and some with PDD-NOS actually exhibit sophisticated use of language with the greatest negative impact manifesting in their impaired abilities to socialize and interact with others. Regardless of the diagnosis, it is most important to note that significant progress can be made with appropriate intervention and support.

Phone: 813.854.3000 • Fax: 813.854.3002 • 3885 Tampa Road, Suite A, Oldsmar, FL 34677• info@lemontreecenter.com