Students with ADHD may often exhibit problems with reading, particularly in the area of reading comprehension.  However, these problems are different from those the result from a  reading disability. The table below provides a summary of reading differences between students with reading disabilities and those with ADHD.

Reading Disabilities ADHD
  • A language-based disability (Pisecco, Baker, Silva, & Brooke, 2001)
  • The reading disability group had more auditory-based deficits than visual (Weiler, Bernstein, Bellinger, & Waber, 2002)
  • Not a language-based disability (Pennington & Ozonoff, 1996)
  • Students with ADHD-I had more deficits in visual search tasks but not on auditory processing tasks (Weiler, et. al., 2002)
  • Reading recognition problems associated with poor word attack scores (e.g., decoding nonsense words) (Lyon, 1992; Stanovich, 1993)
  • Reading comprehension problems (Brock & Knapp, 1996), especially with long and uninteresting passages- associated with sustained inattention (Cherkes-Julkowski & Stolzenberg, 1991; Nussbaum, Grant, Roman, Poole, & Bigler, 1990)
  • More problems in sustained attention than children with reading disabilities (Brown & Wynne, 1984)
  • Poorer reading comprehension than listening comprehension
  • Poorer listening comprehension than reading comprehension (for a review, see Aaron, Joshi, Palmer, Smith, & Kirby, 2002)
  • Phonological skill deficits (Foorman & Liberman, 1989; Stanovich, 1988)
  • No phonological deficits (Shaywitz, 1992)
  • Slower and less accurate in naming letters and even in naming colors than their peers, even when controlling for phonological skills and vocabulary (Tannock, Martinussen, & Frijters, 2000)
  • Early hyperactivity ratings were not associated with later reading difficulties (Velting & Whitehurst, 1997)
  • Attention ratings and IQ scores had the strongest association with reading (Rabiner, & Coie, 2000)