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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Do all children with learning disabilities have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)?

    My son has a learning difficulty and is seeing an OT. Does this mean he is of greater risk of developing ADD? Are they related?
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    Serving the interests of children and young people with childhood language and related disorders View Profile

    Having a learning disability does not necessarily mean that a child will have ADD/ADHD and vice versa. Children with learning difficulties can often have problems with maintaining focus in structured learning activities because they do not understand what is being asked of them and most times are aware that they are having difficulty compared to their peers. Children will often either retreat (and be the quiet, compliant child who goes under the radar) or act out to compensate for their difficulties with tasks.

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    I am a dietitian/nutritionist with extensive research experience into diet/nutrition and children’s behaviour; Mediterranean-style whole food diet; and parental influences on young children’s diets. In … View Profile

    In addition to the previous answer, although having a learning disability does not mean your child has ADHD and vice versa, there is a substantial overlap between developmental disorders; e.g. around a third of children with ADHD have a learning disability and many also have conduct or mood disorders - one of the core issues appears to be attention problems. Some children may have learning or behaviour problems without necessarily a clinically diagnosed disorder. Learning difficulties could have a number of root causes. Among other things, research has found that many children with learning difficulties, whether with or without ADHD or other developmental problems, respond to daily supplementation with fish oil containing omega-3 fatty acids. These are critical for brain function and children in western societies eat far too little of the foods containing these essential nutrients. Any good quality fish oil, providing a daily dose of 500-1000mg long chain omega-3s (EPA+DHA - particularly DHA) could be of assistance (and if not has various health benefits either way). Please feel free to e-mail me if you would like further information. Best wishes, Natalie

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