Differences Between Students with Reading Disabilities and ADHD in Reading

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

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)
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