Jumped the Synapse: Thoughts without sponsors!

These are my thoughts that don't fit in my other blogs. They'll eventually cover a large range of topics.

Friday, July 21, 2006

What are the academic effects of untreated ADHD

Academic Effects
ADHD has a strong effect on academic achievement. A study published recently in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology (McInnes et al., 2003, 31, 427-433), showed that listening comprehension and working memory are impaired in children with ADHD irrespective of language development. The main finding of this study is that children with ADHD have listening deficits even though they may have adequate language abilities for their age, as measured by standardized language tests. Furthermore, these language problems had not been previously detected in the ADHD children in this study.

Although they comprehended factual details presented to them as well as children without ADHD, they had significantly greater difficulty with more subtle aspects of comprehension such as making inferences and monitoring the accuracy of information presented. This may be one reason why children with ADHD do not struggle as much in early grades, where the information is given more straightforwardly; however, the complexity and more subtle aspects of information presenting may overwhelm the child in later grades. Thus, these children could continue to struggle even if their ADHD was treated effectively, because of other difficulties that were not being addressed.

In another study (S.E. Brock, P.K. Knapp, Journal of Attention Disorders [Vol. 3, 1996, pages 173-185]), reading comprehension levels of Grade four to six students were compared. The study showed that the children with ADHD had lower comprehension, even after ensuring that they possessed similar mechanical skill levels (eg word attack, reading speed, sight reading, etc.) to the control group. This has implications in the ability to understand complex materials, to be able to complete assignments, and to derive meaning from readings.

Most of the studies to date suggest fairly significant academic impairment with two of the three ADHD sub-types, and only limited impairment if the sub-type is strictly of the relatively rare Hyperactivity-Impulsivity type. In one study of 1,077 elementary school-aged children (Baumgaertel A, Wolraich M, Dietrich M.. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 1995;34:629–38), over 63% of children with the inattentive sub-type were reported as failing, or below average, 50% of the combined type, and just 12% of the hyeractive-impulsive type.

Experts have consistently stated that academic outcomes for those with ADHD is below average, and this persists beyond elementary school. One study (Murphy, K. et al [2002] Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 190, 147-157.) illustrated this by comparing two groups of 17-28 year olds. Only 7% of the ADHD group had graduated college, compared with 25% of the non-affected group. This has obvious bearing on the future economic prospects of people with ADHD.
... another random musing


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