Reading Comprehension and ADHD: the role of reading words and working memory
Reading and ADHDDo children with ADHD have specific reading comprehension problems? In the study of Cain.K and Bignell.S (2014), the authors try to find the relationship between the symptoms of inattention and the hyperactivity reading comprehension. The authors show that attention problems are associated with low reading comprehension. This relationship is mediated by the ability to read words. High hyperactivity instead is related to low oral understanding rather than a low reading comprehension (Cain & Bignell, 2014).
Although the relationship between ADHD and the ability to read words is known, studies suggest that the problems of reading comprehension in ADHD are also due to the difficulty of constructing a mental representation of reading consistently. Many children with ADHD can read correctly but then they are not able to explain what they have read sequentially. These difficulties would be related to problems in working memory (Miller et al., 2013).
Inattention is also a good predictor of low reading fluency, low reading comprehension and low overall reading ability. Children with inattentive behaviors tend to score lower on tests of reading comprehension than inattentive girls (Pham, 2013). One of the risk factors for developing ADHD is nicotine during pregnancy. New studies suggest that nicotine is also associated with low levels of reading comprehension at school age (Cho, Frijters, Zhang, Miller, & Gruen, 2013).
Cain, K., & Bignell, S. (2014). Reading and listening comprehension and their relation to inattention and hyperactivity. The British Journal of Educational Psychology, 84(Pt 1), 108–124. doi:10.1111/bjep.12009
Cho, K., Frijters, J. C., Zhang, H., Miller, L. L., & Gruen, J. R. (2013). Prenatal exposure to nicotine and impaired reading performance. The Journal of Pediatrics, 162(4), 713–718.e2. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.09.041
Miller, A. C., Keenan, J. M., Betjemann, R. S., Willcutt, E. G., Pennington, B. F., & Olson, R. K. (2013). Reading comprehension in children with ADHD: cognitive underpinnings of the centrality deficit. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 41(3), 473–483. doi:10.1007/s10802-012-9686-8
Pham, A. V. (2013). Differentiating Behavioral Ratings of Inattention, Impulsivity, and Hyperactivity in Children: Effects on Reading Achievement. Journal of Attention Disorders. doi:10.1177/1087054712473833