Is ADHD a Learning or Mental Disability?

Is ADHD a learning disability or mental illness? Read on to learn more about the distinction between the two.

What Is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental disability condition that is characterized by excessive impulsivity and hyperactivity.1  Those with ADHD may also have problems focusing on particular tasks or exhibit high inattention levels as well. ADHD is actually one of the most prevalent pediatric neurodevelopmental diseases, and it is most commonly diagnosed in children. ADHD also affects a lot of adults as well.2 

Myths and Stereotypes Surrounding ADHD

Some people believe ADHD is a learning disability because of the adverse effects it has on successful learning; however, it is actually classified as a mental health disorder. This is a common misconception because there is a lack of awareness of what learning disabilities are.

Although learning disabilities have existed for a very long time, there has recently been an increased focus on mental and learning disabilities. This is unsurprising, seeing as these disabilities often have far-reaching effects on society as a whole. There are several different learning and mental disabilities that have seen an increase of focus in recent years, including ADHD.

It should be noted that although learning and mental disabilities may have some areas of overlap, they are quite different.

Relationship Between ADHD and Learning Disabilities

A learning disability is a neurological medical condition that affects how a person’s brain receives and processes information. People with learning disabilities often experience challenges with learning activities such as reading, spelling, writing, and even mathematics. However, this is not a reflection of the individual, as their primary challenge comes from the fact that they perceive and retain information in a different way than most of society attributes for.

Children diagnosed with ADHD

Various Facets of ADHD and Learning

From the above explanation of what learning disorders are, ADHD cannot be strictly classified as a learning disorder. However, ADHD as a disability does significantly impact learning success or failure. This is one major reason why several people have mistaken ADHD as a mental illness instead of a learning disability. To learn new things, you will need to employ your brain’s executive functions, including the capacity to concentrate, engage your working memory, and focus. Unfortunately, ADHD causes significant impairment of these executive functions and this, in turn, affects learning, which is the main area of overlap between learning disabilities and ADHD developmental disorder.3 

ADHD Symptoms

Although ADHD does not have a cure, there are several treatment options that could help improve the interaction and learning abilities of people with this mental disability. Paying attention to symptoms for ADHD are essential for early detection and treatment. As with several other mental health and learning disability conditions, ADHD mental illness has both mild and severe symptoms.

Mild and Severe Symptoms

Some of these mild and severe ADHD symptoms include the following:

  • Unwillingness to dedicate attention when necessary
  • Impulsive behaviors
  • Lack of priority given where it is needed
  • Displaying a lack of responsibility and procrastination
  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty controlling emotions or managing moods
  • Easily getting upset or furious even when the source of frustration or anger is not obvious
  • Memory problems or cognitive separation from obligations4 

How Can ADHD Impact Learning?

Although it cannot and should not be strictly classified as a learning disability, ADHD can have a pretty significant impact on learning overall for many people with it. The symptoms of ADHD often affect many other areas of the patient’s life, and can sometimes present in ways that may not immediately point to ADHD itself. This is why getting a diagnosis from a doctor is important. The following are ways in which ADHD affects learning:

  • Reduced executive function (concentration, working memory, etc.)
  • Hyperactivity
  • Trouble paying attention
  • Disorganization
  • Impulsivity
  • Lack of attention to detail


Diagnosis of ADHD and Learning Disabilities

The diagnosis of ADHD and learning disabilities usually involves a combination of results from multiple tests. An ADHD diagnosis test may include the following:

  • Physical health history: This will involve a doctor going over the recent medical history of the patient. An “active or full” injury-related medical history may be a pointer to impulsive behaviors. The doctor will also want to carry out physical examinations to ensure that there are no other underlying health conditions.
  • Academic history: Once the physical health history stage is completed, the next thing is to go over the academic performances of the patient in order to detect the presence of ADHD. Detection of poor academic performance and reading problems could be attributed to inattention or hyperactivity.

Other ADHD diagnosis procedures the doctor may carry out include neuropsychological testing, which may include an ADHD thought process evaluation, and a developmental history. This consists of the overall development of the patient, paying attention to emotional and mental areas specifically.

Children with ADHD Stats Report

When a Mental Illness and Learning Disability Occur Together

People with learning disabilities have been discovered to also, for the most part, develop mental illness conditions. Usually, these mental illness conditions – for example, depression – often occur due to the effects of the present learning disability and the hardships it may present for the patient. For instance, a patient with a learning disability that makes communication and connection with other people difficult can easily develop depression if they are reliant on that communication and connection for overall happiness. Because of the lack of exposure to what learning disabilities actually are and a lack of knowledge about their symptoms, most people generally end up writing off the symptoms of co-occurring mental disorders as part of the manifestations of the learning disability itself.5 

Conditions That Can Occur Along With ADHD

Learning disabilities are not the only conditions that can occur alongside ADHD. Other ADHD co-occurring disorders include additional learning disorders, social conduct disorders, mood disorders, and either generalized or severe anxiety.

Disorders similar to ADHD may also include sleep disorders, substance abuse disorders, and Tourette syndrome.

How to Manage ADHD and Learning

Although ADHD does not currently have a cure, there are several ways to manage it and ensure you get to still live life on your terms, healthy and free. Some of the methods of managing ADHD and learning include:

  • Educating parents and teachers about ADHD
  • Experimenting with ADHD management strategies (with the help of a doctor)
  • Therapy
  • Embracing a comprehensive treatment approach
  • Advocating for an individualized education plan if needed


ADHD Diagnosis Statistics

Get Treatment for ADHD Learning Disability At AMFM Treatment

ADHD is very common, and many people with ADHD have considerable, and often multiple, co-occurring mental health problems. Successful ADHD treatment will require access to quality care and support to ensure excellent management and treatment results for ADHD and any other co-occurring disorders as well. This is precisely what AMFM Treatment aims to help patients with.

At AMFM, you or your loved ones will experience a quality clinical and evidence-based mental health therapy that is perfectly blended with compassionate care. It is all tailored specifically to meet your treatment needs. Take the first step towards achieving that healthier, balanced life you want for yourself by contacting us today for ADHD treatment options.

We are here to help you or your loved ones every step of the way, whether that be with ADHD treatment specifically or with issues that have arisen from other aspects of ADHD, such as anxiety or depression. ADHD is very manageable, and starting treatment as soon as possible can ensure that you are able to live the life you want in a successful and happy way.


We also accept many others insurance plans. verify your benefits with no obligation required.


OR CALL US 24/7: (844) 926-0729


We also accept many others insurance plans. verify your benefits with no obligation required.


OR CALL US 24/7: (844) 926-0729