Working in any sort of professional role that involves helping individuals diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) virtually mandates the adoption of a multidisciplinary view of the syndrome and its wide ranging negative effects on functioning. Consequently, a specialization in studying or serving this clinical population requires that one become at least familiar with, if not somewhat knowledgeable about, other domains of research and practice related to ADHD. Hence, the availability of key resources that provide comprehensive but user-friendly overviews of various facets of ADHD is invaluable. These books often assume permanent residence on one's professional bookshelf and are the first ones consulted on questions related to their respective topic areas.
One of the primary domains of impairment experienced by individuals with ADHD, and a topic on which heretofore there have been precious few resources, is in the area of learning problems, particularly for adolescents and adults with ADHD. Although there has been a good deal written on the effects of ADHD and learning disabilities on elementary aged children, until recently there had been no comprehensive resources regarding the unique needs of secondary and post-secondary students with ADHD and learning disabilities. More specifically what has been needed are books providing answers to the questions, “What are specific learning difficulties experienced by adolescent and adult students with ADHD or learning disabilities?” and “What are the options for identifying and effectively supporting these students?”
Adolescents and adults with learning disabilities and ADHD: Assessment and accommodation is a welcome volume devoted to providing evidence-based answers to the aforementioned questions. Not only does the book provide comprehensive summaries of research on an array of learning issues, but also links the research to useful suggestions for educational interventions and accommodations for learning impairments in adolescents and adults. It is an extremely useful handbook that will be relevant for years to come for practicing neuropsychologists as well as for practitioners in related professions who help secondary and post-secondary students with ADHD and/or learning disabilities.
The stage is set for addressing the specifics of assessing and accommodating learning problems by early chapters devoted to thorough and informative discussions of the need for accommodations, with particular attention to the needs of underserved populations, followed by a review of the various legal definitions of the term “learning disability,” requirements for documentation of disability, and statutes guiding mandated accommodations. Moreover, issues related to differences in the laws and statutes governing learning disabilities as students move from secondary to post-secondary school and further issues related to high-stake testing are covered, helping to clarify common sources of confusion.
Following these introductory chapters is a systematic review of the major components of learning that constitutes the main thrust of the book. Particularly helpful were chapter length discussions of the differences between broad and specific cognitive processes as well as the role of social, emotional, and behavioral factors that could interfere with learning. Chapters are devoted to overviews of the assessment and accommodation of reading, writing, and symbol systems (e.g., science, mathematics, and second languages). Each chapter provides the reader with detailed information of various subordinate skills that can be impaired, suggested strategies for competent assessment of these skills, similarities and differences among students with ADHD, learning disabilities, or a combination thereof. The reviews are extremely informative and impressive in both the breadth and depth of their coverage of the respective topics. Even experienced neuropsychologists and school psychologists will likely appreciate the nuanced discussions of debates in the field and limitations of existing research. Reading through the chapters is akin to getting a guided tour from an expert in the field through the various issues and controversies affecting assessment and accommodation of learning disabilities.
The author provides scientific evidence to support the conclusions presented, but openly acknowledges gaps in and limitations of extant research and practice. The review of various tests includes meticulous discussions of their utility in particular cases, as well as their strengths and limitations that experienced evaluators will find beneficial. The discussion of assessment measures that can be used to evaluate different learning skills will be very informative for practitioners who may not perform learning assessments, but who want an insider's understanding of the reports they read. Pragmatic and clear suggestions for accommodations and interventions, including the use of various illustrated decision trees to guide decisions, make the book a useful resource for educators and clinicians on the frontlines who are working with adolescent and adult students. Of particular interest were reviews of existing and emerging assistive technologies that permeate the chapters.
A similarly useful book, Adult learning disabilities and ADHD: Research-informed assessment (Mapou, 2009), also recently hit the market. The two volumes complement one another quite well. Gregg's (2009) book focuses on functioning in academic settings, devotes sections to adolescents in secondary school, and has lengthier reviews of some specific learning problems. Mapou's (2009) book focuses on adults with ADHD and learning disabilities, both in post-secondary educational settings and in the workplace, as well as a lengthier review of the assessment of adult ADHD and various treatment options, including an assortment of academic and occupational accommodations. Both volumes are rooted in evidence supported assessments and interventions, provide useful overviews of various legal issues and debates in the field of learning disabilities, discuss a variety of assistive technologies, and supply clinical useful case examples to illustrate commonly encountered assessment situations.
In sum, Adolescents and adults with learning disabilities and ADHD: Assessment and accommodations is a gem of a book that has something useful to offer experienced neuropsychologists, other clinical or educational professionals, and advanced graduate students. In the spirit of the guiding theme of the book, every reader will come away with having learned something new from this volume.