Learning difficulties can present challenges for school-aged children. They may have difficulty with reading, math, problem solving, and general academic tasks. Additionally, these difficulties may contribute to low self-esteem. Children with specific learning disabilities (SpLD) such as dyslexia may be viewed differently than their peers. They may feel isolated, ostracized, or even ridiculed as a result. Many children with SpLD also have psychological issues, the most common being attention-deficit hyperactivity (ADHD). This mental health condition can also impair health quality of life (HQoL) for children. Impulsive and hyperactive behavior can lead to segregation from other children and, even without the addition of SpLD, can impair academic performance. Therefore, it could be assumed that children with SpLD and ADHD have a lower HQoL than those with only ADHD or SpLD. To determine if this is the case, Sunil Karande of the Department of Pediatrics at the Learning Disability Clinic at the Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Medical College in Mumbai, India, recently interviewed 136 newly diagnosed SpLD children with and without ADHD. The children were assessed for levels of well-being related to independence, social inclusion, emotion, physical functioning, psychosocial functioning, and overall ability.
Karande found that the children with SpLD and ADHD had higher HQoL than those with SpLD alone. In fact, they reported higher health status, better sleep patterns, and fewer perceived limitations related to physical and academic tasks. The SpLD/ADHD children also cited fewer fears and worries related to their diagnoses. They were less angry and less concerned about their futures than those with SpLD alone. They also reported more confidence in forming social relationships and less instances of isolation or ridicule by peers or teachers. These findings are contrary to what was expected from this study. However, Karande believes they are positive and can aid parents and clinicians working with SpLD/ADHD children. Many parents develop anxiety when one of their children receives a diagnosis of this type. “Pediatricians, psychiatrists, and counselors can utilize this important finding to allay parental anxieties and help them in coping up with their child’s dual diagnosis,” said Karande. Assuaging parental fears will help facilitate positive treatment outcomes and benefit children in a variety of ways in the long run.
Karande, Sunil, and Rohini Venkataraman. (2013). Impact of co-morbid attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder on self-perceived health-related quality-of-life of children with specific learning disability. Indian Journal of Psychiatry 55.1 (2013): 52-8.
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