Reading and listening comprehension and their relation to inattention and hyperactivity




Children with diagnoses of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) frequently have reading problems. To date, it is not clear whether poor reading is associated with both inattention and hyperactivity and also whether poor reading comprehension is the result of poor word reading skills or more general language comprehension weaknesses.


We report two studies to examine how reading and listening comprehension skills are related to inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity.


Separate groups of 7- to 11-year-olds participated in each study.


In both studies, we used teacher ratings of inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity to identify three groups at risk of ADHD: poor attention, high hyperactivity, poor attention and high hyperactivity, and also same-age controls. In Study 1, we explored how inattention and hyperactivity predicted reading after controlling for non-verbal IQ and vocabulary. In Study 2, we compared listening and reading comprehension in these groups.


Poor attention was related to poor reading comprehension, although the relation was partially mediated by word reading skill (Study 1). Groups with high hyperactivity had weak listening comprehension relative to reading comprehension (Study 2).


These results indicate that the reading comprehension problems of children with attention difficulties are related to poor word reading and that listening comprehension is particularly vulnerable in children at risk of ADHD.