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. @Pragmatic mom, I totally agree with you. I always trust a mom’s intuition.
    @Jeri, we need more of teachers like you. A observant and caring teacher can often notice these impairments before the parents do.

  2. I had a first grade student who was having petite mal seizures. I only recognized it as a possibility because a college professor spent a lot of time covering physical problems that affect learning. Teachers often can’t suggest a specific medical conern for legal reasons. Luckily, I pulled the school nurse into the class to witness a suspected seizure and she was able to get the ball rolling.

  3. That is such a helpful post! I think parents need to be informed these days and practically suggest the diagnosis themselves to really get to the root of issues like these.

  4. Disphasia occurs as a result of damage or poor development of the language center in the brain. It is a true learning disorder and unfortunately can only be managed with speech therapy and is often irreversible.

  5. We have visited all doctors – he has disphasia
    – What do you know about that disorder?