Learning about learning disabilities

March 6, 2020

I’m trying to listen, but my mind gets easily side-tracked.”

— Carly Norris '21

Carly Norris ’21 is among the nearly six million children in the U.S according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2016 survey data, who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). She was diagnosed in third grade, a common age for children with this condition to be identified.

Although ADHD is not considered a learning disability, it can make the learning process for students more difficult, as it is characterized by the struggle to pay attention and the inability to control behavior. 

According to Norris, focusing in school can be tough at times because she is easily distracted during class.

“It’s really hard when I’m writing essays, because I’ll be on one topic, and then suddenly I’m talking about a different topic and I don’t even know how I got there,” Norris said.

Holden Logan ’21 was diagnosed with ADHD and Dysgraphia at the age of six. Dysgraphia is a condition that causes a person to write illegibly with inconsistent spacing.

“I can’t write my own name without me not even being able to read it sometimes,” Logan said.

Although there is no “cure” for Dysgraphia, it can be supported through various accommodations such as 504 plans and Individual Education Programs (IEP) which provide students with a varying degree of assistance. 

“I know one big thing is that teachers always complain about my handwriting,” Holden said. “So I will always ask them if I can take notes on the computer.” 

Dyslexia is another common learning disability among students. According to the Dyslexia Center of Utah, it affects 20% of the U.S population. 

This type of disorder affects the left hemisphere of the brain which processes language and can cause an individual to mix up letters or entire words while reading.

Jenna Alden ’23 was diagnosed with ADHD and Dyslexia in kindergarten which affects her experience in the classroom. According to Alden, although it can be a challenge to read fluently, that doesn’t stop her from learning.

“I couldn’t understand how to read but I could read to understand,” Alden said. 

Gus Elwell ’22 has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and ADHD both of which are conditions that share a significant characteristic: difficulty focusing.

“In your mind, you’re constantly jumping from one thing to another,” Elwell said. 

Although both conditions are classified as neurological disorders, the symptoms of ADHD manifest themselves in a more physical manner, such as fidgeting or hyperactivity, than ADD. Elwell finds these things affecting him on a daily basis. 

“A lot of the times, I will be having a normal conversation with someone, and I will just start talking about something completely different,” Elwell said.“It connects in my brain.”


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