Comorbidity of LD and ADHD: implications of DSM-5 for assessment and treatment

J Learn Disabil. 2013 Jan-Feb;46(1):43-51. doi: 10.1177/0022219412464351. Epub 2012 Nov 9.


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning disability (LD) can co-occur for a significant minority of children with each disorder. A total of 17 studies (2001-2011) examining ADHD-LD comorbidity were reviewed, revealing a higher mean comorbidity rate (45.1%) than has been obtained previously. Higher comorbidity may be the result of including students with writing disorders, not just reading and/or math disabilities. Proposed DSM-5 criteria for both disorders will likely affect comorbidity rates; however, it is unclear whether such rates will increase or decrease. Regardless of the specific impact of DSM revisions, academic skill and/or performance deficits should be assessed for students with ADHD as part of screening, comprehensive evaluation, and treatment monitoring. Comprehensive intervention services for students with comorbid ADHD and LD will require empirically supported treatment strategies that address both disorders and that are implemented across school and home settings.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / therapy
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders*
  • Humans
  • Learning Disabilities / diagnosis*
  • Learning Disabilities / epidemiology
  • Learning Disabilities / therapy