ADHD and reading disability in male adults: is there a connection?

  • Samuelsson S
  • Lundberg I
  • Herkner B
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The present study examined the comorbidity between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and reading disability (RD) in male adults. Participants were 120 men, of whom 24 were classified as having ADHD. The basis for the diagnosis was two self-report scales validated by interviews and background data. An extensive battery was used to assess phonological abilities and various aspects of reading skills. No differences were obtained between adults with and without ADHD on measures of either phonological processing skills or word decoding, indicating a low comorbidity with RD. This finding was valid even when different criteria were used to diagnose RD. However, the two groups differed in reading comprehension, with individuals with ADHD performing poorly in tests of reading comprehension. These results are compatible with the view that reading comprehension involves many of the higher cognitive control functions assumed to be impaired in ADHD. However, these attentional control functions are not critical to word recognition, which is determined by a more encapsulated phonological processing module. The pattern of associations between ADHD and RD observed in the present study is explained with reference to the differential attentional demands of the two aspects of reading.

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  • S Samuelsson

  • I Lundberg

  • B Herkner

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