Early detection is everything

Red flag for possible Learning Disabilities.

Teachers should be the first to notice when something is not quite on par. However, when parents know what to look for, possible problems can be identified and dealt with sooner.

Generally, early detection of ADD/ADHD is difficult because we often find it hard to distinguish normal boisterous, inattentive and uninhibited behavior from behavior that is abnormal or symptomatic of ADD/ADHD.

Early identification of any learning problems and subsequent intervention can make a huge difference in the life of the child and their family. Early intervention is linked to more positive social and behavioral adaptation, smaller gaps in cognitive and chronological age, and reduced manifestations of co-existing learning difficulties.

Diagnosis before the age of four is very risky and can often be premature. Pre-primary teachers and parents of pre-school children should be on the lookout for signs of delayed development or risk of learning difficulties, such as the ones listed below.

ADHD is more than just an inability to sit still. Often there are delays in speech-language, motor-skills and/or academic readiness. This will also manifest as an inability to remember ABC’s, numbers, shape, and letter-sound associations.

Possible signs can include:


  • Slow development in forming words or sentences (“late talkers”)
  • Pronunciation problems
  • Difficulty learning new words; slow vocabulary growth
  • Difficulty finding the right word to use when speaking
  • Difficulty understanding and following simple (one-step) directions
  • Difficulty understanding questions
  • Difficulty recognizing or learning rhyming words
  • Lack of interest in storytelling
  • Immature grammar (syntax)

Emergent Literacy and Skills

  • Slow speed in naming objects and colours
  • Limited phonological awareness (rhyming and syllable blending)
  • Difficulty understanding that written language is composed of phonemes (individual sounds) and letters that make up syllables and words
  • Minimal interest in print and limited print awareness
  • Difficulty recognizing and learning the letters of the alphabet
  • Difficulty learning the connection between letters and sounds


  • Trouble memorizing the alphabet or days of the week
  • Poor memory for what should be routine (everyday procedures)
  • Difficulty with cause and effect, sequencing, and counting
  • Difficulty with basic concepts, such as size, shape, and colour

Motor Skills

  • Clumsiness
  • Poor balance
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills and manipulating small objects (stringing beads, tying shoes, buttoning)
  • Awkwardness with running, jumping, or climbing (delayed gross motor skills)
  • Difficulty with or avoidance of drawing, coloring, tracing, or copying

Social Behavior

  • Trouble interacting with others plays alone
  • Easily frustrated
  • Hard to manage, temper tantrums
  • Has difficulty following directions

Attention and Behavior

  • Distractibility and inattention
  • Impulsivity
  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty changing activities or handling disruptions to routines.

Excerpted and adapted from RIEF, SANDRA (2016) How to Reach and Teach Children and Teens with ADD/ADHD, Third Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass (Wiley).

How Brain Gain can help

The Brain Gain Concentration Program is a fun, non-invasive program designed to help children from age four and older to over-come concentration issues. There are no medications, no side effects and homework to follow with the Brain Gain Program.

We use conditioning Brain Training, that helps a child concentrate optimally for longer. Once the conditioning has taken place, the effects of the Training program should continuously improve as your child becomes older.

For 6-year olds (Grade R’s) a School Readiness assessment is available that assess if the basic requirements for academic readiness are evaluated as well as your child’s concentration. If this assessment is done mid-year, it gives you the added advantage of having time for intervention to take effect before your child has to go to Gr 1. With Brain Gain, intervention would include a concentration-training program.

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