Cognitive strengths and deficits in schoolchildren with ADHD


Ulla Ek, Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden. Tel: + 46 8 16 38 38 | Fax: + 46 8 16 10 02 Email:


Background: Few studies provide detailed analyses of the various aspects of the entire cognitive profile of children with ADHD.

Material and methods: Cognitive test data were analysed for 10- to 11-year-old children with (1) ADHD, (2) subthreshold ADHD and (3) milder attention and/or learning problems, and compared with normative data.

Results: Thirty-two had ADHD and 10 met the criteria for subthreshold ADHD, prevalence rates of 5.4% and 1.6%, respectively. On a group level, children with ADHD/subthreshold ADHD, and those with milder attention and/or learning problems had almost identical cognitive profiles for the 13 subtests comprising the WISC III, with particularly low results on the arithmetic, coding, information and digit span subtests (ACID profile). When analyzed individually, a complete or incomplete ACID profile (three of four subtests) was equally common in children with ADHD/subthreshold ADHD and in children with milder problems, found in about 1/5. The relative strengths of both groups were in areas demanding logical thinking, reasoning and common sense.

Conclusion: The specific ACID profile is as common in children with ADHD as in those with minor attention and/or learning problems. The cognitive weaknesses reflected in the ACID profile might play a role as an underlying factor in various developmental disorders.