Specific Learning Disorders and ADHD: Current Issues in Diagnosis Across Clinical and Educational Settings

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2015 Jun;17(6):38. doi: 10.1007/s11920-015-0584-y.


With the recent changes in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), this article provides a comprehensive review of two high-incidence disorders most commonly seen in childhood and adolescence: specific learning disorder (SLD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Updates regarding comorbidity, shared neuropsychological factors, and reasons for the changes in diagnostic criteria are addressed. Although the revisions in the DSM-5 may allow for better diagnostic sensitivity based on the symptomology, specifiers, and the clinical features outlined, there continues to be challenges in operationalizing SLD and implementing consistent assessment practices among mental health professionals particularly when considering the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which provides guidelines in the evaluation of SLD in school settings. Clinical and educational assessment implications are discussed with special attention to develop a collaborative approach between psychiatrists, psychologists, and educators when providing service delivery for children and adolescents with neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / genetics
  • Comorbidity
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Specific Learning Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Specific Learning Disorder / epidemiology
  • Specific Learning Disorder / genetics