Learning disabilities and risk-taking behavior in adolescents: a comparison of those with and without comorbid attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

J Learn Disabil. Nov-Dec 2008;41(6):561-74. doi: 10.1177/0022219408326096.


Risk-taking behavior includes alcohol and drug use, delinquency, acts of aggression, sexual activity, and so on. Many studies have explored the relationship between adolescents and risk-taking behavior; however, only a few studies have examined this link in adolescents with learning disabilities (LD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The purpose of the present study was to address that limitation by comparing the risk-taking behavior of adolescents with LD (n=230), with comorbid LD/ADHD (n=92), and without LD or ADHD (n=322) on their substance use, engagement in major and minor delinquency, acts of aggression, sexual activity, and gambling activities. The study also investigated whether psychosocial variables (e.g., well-being) may act as mediating variables that help explain between-group differences. Results suggest that it is a combination of the LD and the secondary psychosocial characteristics that explains why adolescents with LD and comorbid LD/ADHD more frequently engage in some risk-taking behavior.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning Disabilities / diagnosis
  • Learning Disabilities / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Psychology
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Social Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Social Behavior Disorders / epidemiology*