Half of ADHD Boys and Girls Have Reading Disability

Reading Disability Risk High in Girls With ADHD

The study, which looked at more than 5,000 Minnesota youth, found that children with ADHD have dramatically higher rates of reading disabilities than youth without the disorder. The incidence of reading disabilities among boys with ADHD was 51 percent, and among girls it was 46.7 percent. For boys without ADHD, the reading disability rate among the study participants was 14.5 percent; among girls it was 7.7 percent.

This is from Christina Samuels of EducationWeek: Reading Disability Risk In Girls With ADHD

This news is particularly noteworthy for girls, because those who don’t have ADHD have relatively low rate of reading disabilities, according to the study. The authors conclude: “Although the American Academy of Pediatrics clinical practice guideline on the diagnosis and evaluation of children with ADHD does not specifically recommend psychoeducational testing for every child with ADHD, our findings clearly demonstrate that it is essential for clinicians to assess all children with ADHD for the presence of comorbid [reading disabilities.]”

So, if your child has ADHD or you suspect they do, insist that they get tested for reading.  And if your child struggles with reading relative to his or her peers, investigate the possibility of ADHD.  At least, this is what I think the study results suggest.

This is the actual study published in Pediatrics:

RESULTS Cumulative incidence of RD by the age of 19 years was significantlyhigher in children with ADHD (51% in boys, 46.7% in girls) comparedwith those without ADHD (14.5% in boys, 7.7% in girls). Amongchildren with ADHD, the risk for RD was similar in boys versusgirls (HR: 1.0). However, among children without ADHD, boyswere 2.0 times more likely than girls to meet RD criteria. Amonggirls, the HR for the risk for RD associated with ADHD (versusthose without ADHD) was 8.1 (95% confidence interval: 5.7–11.5),which was significantly higher than the corresponding HR amongboys (3.9 [95% confidence interval: 3.2–4.9]).

CONCLUSIONS The risk for RD is significantly greater among children withADHD compared with those without ADHD. Among children with ADHD,the risk for RD is the same for boys and girls. However, amongchildren without ADHD, boys are more at risk for RD than girls.Among girls, the magnitude of increased risk for RD associatedwith ADHD is nearly twice that among boys, because girls withoutADHD are less likely to have RD than boys without ADHD.

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. I’ve been reading what Brain Balance – http://www.brainbalancecenters.com – has to say about ADHD: that all neurobehavioral disorders have in common an underlying condition called functional disconnection syndrome. Through diet, behavior modification, brain exercises and educational techniques that help make connections, Brain Balance asserts one can reduce or eliminate symptoms. While their site doesn’t really talk cause (environment, genetics, birth injury, etc.) It is worth a read, particularly the “truth” section. I think it gets to the heart of what you can DO once your loved one is affected. They are brain based, not drug based… it’s a much more natural approach to improving brain function.

    • Thank you for this valuable information. I have been reading about brain and eye exercises that some parents have found to be helpful but I don’t know too much about it. I will post those articles when I come across them. I agree that medicine is not the only option though, as parents, you may have to dig for effective alternative therapies to use in conjunction with medication or solely.

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