Reading skills: conditions for Reading comprehension.

Reading Comprehension and ADHD: the role of reading words and the working memory

Reading comprehension and ADHD

Do children with ADHD have specific reading comprehension’s problems?

In the study of Cain.K & Bignell.S (2014), the authors tried to find out which is the relation between inattention and hyperactivity symptoms and the level on reading comprehension.

They demonstrated that attentional deficits are related to a low reading comprehension skill. This relation is actually mediated by the ability to read words. However, a high hyperactivity is related to a low oral comprehension, more than a low reading comprehension (Cain & Bignell, 2014).

Although the relation between ADHD and the ability to read words is widely known, there are some studies suggesting that reading comprehension deficits in ADHD are also due to a difficulty on the construction of a coherent reading mental representation. Many children with ADHD are able to read correctly, but they are not able to sequentially explain what they have read. These difficulties are more related to a deficit in the working memory (Miller et al., 2013).

In general, inattention is also a good predictor of reading fluency, low reading comprehension and low reading skills. Boys with this inattentional pattern tend to rate lower in reading comprehension tasks than girls with ADHD (Pham, 2013).

A risk factor to develop ADHD is the nicotine’s consumption during the pregnancy period. New studies suggest that this consumption is also related to low reading comprehension levels in scholar ages (Cho, Fritjers, 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 Psychology84(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 Pediatrics162(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 Psychology41(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

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