Nearly 4 million school-age children have learning disabilities.
Of these, at least 20 percent have a type of disorder that leaves
them unable to focus their attention.
Some children and adults who have attention disorders appear
to daydream excessively. And once you get their attention, they're
often easily distracted. Susan, for example, tends to mentally
drift off into a world of her own. Children like Susan may have
a number of learning difficulties. If, like Susan, they are quiet
and don't cause problems, their problems may go unnoticed. They
may be passed along from grade to grade, without getting the special
assistance they need.
In a large proportion of affected children--mmostly boys--tthe
attention deficit is accompanied by hyperactivity. Dennis is an
example of a person with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder--AADHD.
They act impulsively, running into traffic or toppling desks.
Like young Dennis, who jumped on the sofa to exhaustion, hyperactive
children can't sit still. They blurt out answers and interrupt.
In games, they can't wait their turn. These children's problems
are usually hard to miss. Because of their constant motion and
explosive energy, hyperactive children often get into trouble
with parents, teachers, and peers.
By adolescence, physical hyperactivity usually subsides into
fidgeting and restlessness. But the problems with attention and
concentration often continue into adulthood. At work, adults with
ADHD often have trouble organizing tasks or completing their work.
They don't seem to listen to or follow directions. Their work
may be messy and appear careless.
Attention disorders, with or without hyperactivity, are not considered
learning disabilities in themselves. However, because attention
problems can seriously interfere with school performance, they
often accompany failure to reach academic potential.
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