Most educators are more familiar with ADHD and learning disabilities than traumatic brain injury. This tip card describes the causes and methods for diagnosis of traumatic brain injury, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning disability. It explains why and how pre-injury factors, patterns of recovery, and special learning and behavioral patterns distinguish these conditions. There is an excellent chart comparing the three diagnoses and needs of the student for easy reference by parents, educators and therapists.
This tip card helps parents, educators, therapists and psychologists...
Brain Injury and Special Education
What is a Brain Injury?
What is ADHD?
What is a Learning Disability?
Why the Confusion?
Comparison Chart of Brain Injury, ADHD and Learning Disabilities
Sample excerpt. Preview only – please do not copy.
Why the Confusion?
In the early twentieth century, the cluster of symptoms now known as ADHD was thought to be related to brain trauma. Although research has since found otherwise, many still believe this. For years, a learning disability was defined as “minimal brain dysfunction.” There are many overlapping conditions between the three disabilities.
For example, almost 20% of children with learning disabilities also have symptoms of ADHD. A brain injury can result in the development of learning and attention problems that look like ADHD and learning disabilities. There are important differences. Most notable is the sudden onset of a disability in a student following a brain injury. Many children have long-term disabilities after a brain injury. These changes in abilities or deficits may be more severe during the first months or years after the injury.
As the brain recovers, problems with attention, executive functions, higher language skills and behavior may lessen but not totally disappear. Frequently, children with attention difficulties after a brain trauma have what is called a “checkerboard” pattern. This is because some attention skills are slightly affected, while others are very impaired.
Many children with brain injuries process information more slowly and have difficulty with abstract concepts. They may also be easily distracted, seem “hyper” and have “behavioral” problems. These patterns can be easily mistaken as characteristics of ADHD.
A child with a brain injury usually has different patterns of abilities and behaviors than children with ADHD or learning disabilities. Unique characteristics are found in students with brain injury.