Medical Conditions Disguised as Learning Disorders

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Guest post by Bola Ajumobi, owner of, a certified family physician, and  mom of two.

Your first or second grader is having difficulty putting words together while trying to read. He or she is otherwise performing at age and grade level in other function like dressing, toileting and self-feeding.

There might already be talks of having your child in special Ed.

The listening ear of a sympathetic and knowledgeable pediatrician or family doctor will prove invaluable as you go through this process of discovery.

Take the case of Stephanie, an optician who watched helplessly as her school aged son struggled on in school. She enrolled him in remedial classes, hired tutors and even took a leave of absence from her job to focus on his needs. Her son had to be held back in second grade. Nothing changed until she brought up the issue with her son’s doctor. So as you go through mandated assessments and standardized tests for your child, make it a point to see his or her physician to discuss any peculiarities or behavioral changes you may have observed.

Medical conditions you might want your child evaluated for include:

Refractive error:

Otherwise known as poor vision. A child with an impaired vision is often unaware of his or her visual limitations. If she can’t see the letters or the word, she would not be able to read. Plain and simple.

Impaired Hearing:

Same theory here. Hearing impaired kids are often misidentified as slow learners. Vision and hearing tests are routinely performed during preschool and grade level physicals with the pediatrician.


This is actually a learning disorder where the brain misinterprets certain letters or words. A child might not be able to tell the difference between the letter “b” and the letter “d” for instance.

ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder):

Unlike its better known and more disruptive cousin, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), kids with ADD are calm and not jumping off the wall. They however have limitations with attention and staying focused, their mind often wonder and they have difficulty completing tasks.

Seizure Disorder:

A particular seizure disorder called “Petite Mal” or Absence Seizure could bring about a delay in learning and reading. An affected child has frequent small seizures where there is no jerking but stares blank in space often missing a sizable amount of time in small chunks at a time.

Treatment is available for all the aforementioned medical conditions and results are often dramatic. Corrective lenses for refractive errors, hearing aids for hearing impairments, stimulants for ADD and anti-seizure medications for Petite Mal. Behavioral therapy may be of help with dyslexia. Again bring up your concerns with your child’s doctor.

Bio: Bola Ajumobi is the owner of, “The Destination for Books Kids Love!”  She is a mom of 2 and a certified family physician. She is happiest playing with the boys or curled up in a good book. Facebook, Twitter, Blog.


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  1. My son was diagnosed with SPD at age 4. We continued through the years to help him through various therapies: ST, OT, PT, and neurofeedback. He improved but had more and more trouble with other seemingly unrelated things: low muscle tone, kidney stones, recurrent shingles, joint laxity… finally an orthopedic challenged us to find a different diagnosis than SPD. It took another year and a half. At age 14 our son was finally correctly diagnosed with B12 deficiency. A NutraEval revealed critically low levels and high levels of methylmalonic acid in the blood. He also had dangerously high levels of amino acids in his urine because the b vitamins weren’t there to turn amino acids into muscle tissue so his body was getting rid of them. Our primary had done CBCs through the years but macrocytic anemia (the traditional sign of b12 deficiency) can be masked by large amounts of folic acid such as in the multivitamin our son was taking. After further tests, we found out our son has a genetic impairment in processing the inactive form of b12 into the active form so in order to get what he needs he is on shots. He has improved dramatically this year, but much of the nerve damage of going untreated is permanent as is the kidney and liver damage. If he had been tested for elevated methylmalonic acid at age 5 instead of given the SPD diagnosis which isn’t even a real diagnosis, he would would be much healthier today.