Difference Between ADHD and Learning Disability (With Table)

Small children often face issues regarding their studies and little to gain knowledge. Their grasp of knowledge is not at a normal level and they frequently face problems of forgetfulness. The common problems faced by these kids are learning, gaining new skills, communication problems, and completing certain tasks. In such situations, children are often found to be suffering from either ADHD or learning disabilities.

ADHD vs Learning Disability

The main difference between ADHD and Learning Disability is that children suffering from ADHD are often found hyperactive and super energetic. On the other hand, children who are suffering from learning disabilities or LD are not hyperactive. These children need time to understand and analyze something and they often get confused.

ADHD is a type of disorder in which children experience a heightened level of activity. This is a neurodevelopmental disorder and it results in the child taking time to understand things. The children suffering from this disorder have difficulty in being calm and they are not able to control their behaviors.

Learning disability, as one would infer it, is related to the learning, memorizing, or understanding capabilities of a person. The activity level of the child suffering from this disorder is low and the child takes time in grasping things. They also experience problems in analyzing and following instructions and directions.

Comparison Table Between ADHD and Learning Disability

Parameters of ComparisonADHDLearning Disability
Brain Development Brain development in ADHD is characterized by impulsivity, attention problem, and hyperactivity. Brain development in the learning disability is characterized by problems in reading, speech, following directions, and problem-solving.
Cause of the disordersADHD is believed to be caused due to chemical problems in the brain, especially the levels of dopamine. When there are problems regarding the wiring and the resultant transfer of information, it results in learning disability.
Level of activityChildren suffering from ADHD are impulsive and experience hyperactivity.Children suffering from learning disabilities are not so active.
Problems facedChildren face problems of concentration, focus, and inability to stay at a place for long.Children face the problems of dyslexia, dyscalculia, auditory processing disorder, and visual processing disorder.
Emotional outburstChildren suffering from ADHD often experience sudden outbursts of emotions.Emotional outburst is not very common in kids suffering from learning disability.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is the commonly used abbreviation for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. This disorder is primarily associated with three significant traits. These are attention problems, impulsivity and hyperactivity. These traits make the task of concentration of a child quite difficult by decreasing their attention span.

When the child is performing or doing a task, it becomes difficult for the child to stay focused throughout the class, if the student is suffering from ADHD. Apart from their concentration problems, these children are also impulsive. They take decisions under the effect of impulses and are often noted to be stubborn. Moreover, children also face energetic and impulsiveness combined with an energetic kid makes a kid hyperactive.

Children suffering from ADHD also feel sudden outbursts of emotions. They have abrupt turmoils of feelings, excitement, strength, and stamina. This makes the task of their parents in controlling them tremendously harder.

These children can potentially proceed with performing a similar activity continually without noting it. All these effects of ADHD have a negative effect in the growth and development of the child.

What is Learning Disability?

Learning disability is another type of disorder affecting children. It impacts their decision-making and understanding abilities. Although both the disorders are quite similar in certain parameters such as patients and impact, they differ in their causes and treatment.

The effects of Learning disability can be described under four heads, namely, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and auditory processing disorder. While dyslexia refers to the disorder in which similar letters appear as jumbled to children, dyscalculia is the difficulty in solving basic mathematical calculations and telling the time. On the other hand, dysgraphia refers to difficulty experienced by children in writing, and the confusion between similar sounding words is called auditory processing disorder.

The cause of learning disability is the problems related to the neural networks of the brain. Certain children have their brains wired differently which makes them visualize things differently. However, this does not mean that they are of unsound mind or abnormal in any way.

Main Differences Between ADHD and Learning Disability

  1. The brain development of children suffering from these diseases is different in both cases. In ADHD, the child suffers from concentration problems, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. On the other hand, a learning disability is characterized by problems in communication, reading, problem-solving and following directions.
  2. The cause of the occurrence of ADHD is not determined. However, scientists have noted that children’s lower dopamine levels make a child prone to the disease. In contrast to that, problems in the neural networks of the brain lead to a learning disorder.
  3. The level of activity of the children suffering from these diseases is a major differentiating factor. While the children suffering from ADHD experience heightened levels of activity and is restless, the children suffering from learning disability are comparatively calmer.
  4. Children suffering from ADHD face problems with attention, focus, and impulsiveness. On the other hand, children suffering from learning disabilities face the problem of dyslexia, dyscalculia, and visual processing disorder.
  5. ADHD patients also face sudden outbursts of anger, which is not the case with patients with a learning disability.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Learning Disability (LD) are the two major disorders affecting children in their early growth and development phase. These disorders have a negative impact on the early education of those children, particularly memorizing and understanding things, writing, calculations, and telling time.

ADHD makes the child hard to concentrate on things and makes them impulsive and hyperactive. It is perceived to be caused due to low levels of dopamine in the human brain. On the other hand, a learning disability makes the child infer things differently from others. This is basically due to different brain wiring systems in them.


  1. https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ajp.2012.12070991
  2. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2001-18728-007