[The comorbidity of learning difficulties and ADHD symptoms in primary-school-age children]

Z Kinder Jugendpsychiatr Psychother. 2015 May;43(3):185-93. doi: 10.1024/1422-4917/a000352.
[Article in German]


Children having difficulties in acquiring early literacy and mathematical skills often show an increased rate of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. This study provides data on the comorbidity rates of specific learning difficulties and ADHD symptoms. We analyzed the data of 273 children with learning difficulties despite an at least average IQ, 57 children with low IQ, and 270 children without learning difficulties and average IQ (comparison group). We assessed children’s IQ and school achievement using standardized achievement tests. ADHD symptoms were assessed via parents’ ratings. Our results showed that only 5 % of both the control group and the group with solely mathematical difficulties fulfilled the criteria of an ADHD subtype according to the DSM-IV based on parents’ ratings. In contrast, this was the case in even 20 % of the children with difficulties in reading/writing and of those with low IQ. Compared to girls, boys in the control group had a 150% higher risk for matching the criteria of one of the ADHD subtypes in parents’ ratings, whereas boys with learning difficulties and those with low IQ had an even 200% to 600% higher risk for it. The relationship between learning difficulties and ADHD symptoms can be found predominantly in the inattentive type. Possible reasons for the results are discussed.

Keywords: ADHD; ADHS; Dyskalkulie; Komorbidität; Lernschwierigkeiten; Lese-Rechtschreibstörung; borderline intelligence; comorbidity; dyscalculia; dyslexia; learning disabilities; unterdurchschnittliche Intelligenz.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Dyscalculia / diagnosis
  • Dyscalculia / epidemiology
  • Dyslexia / diagnosis
  • Dyslexia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Learning Disabilities / diagnosis*
  • Learning Disabilities / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Personality Assessment
  • Risk
  • Writing