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J Learn Disabil. 2000 Mar-Apr;33(2):179-91.

Comorbidity of reading disability and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: differences by gender and subtype.

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  • 1University of Colorado, Institute for Behavioral Genetics, Boulder 80309, USA.


This study used a community sample of 494 twins with a reading disability (223 girls, 271 boys) and 373 twins without a reading disability (189 girls, 184 boys) to assess the relation between reading disability (RD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Symptoms of DSM-III and DSM-IV ADHD were classified into symptoms of inattention and symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity (H/I). Results indicated that individuals with RD were more likely than individuals without RD to meet criteria for ADHD and that the association between RD and ADHD was stronger for symptoms of inattention than for symptoms of H/I. Parents and teachers reported similar rates of ADHD, suggesting that ADHD symptoms were pervasive across settings and were not solely attributable to academic frustration. Analyses of possible gender differences revealed that RD was significantly associated with inattention in both girls and boys but associated with H/I only in boys. This difference may provide a partial explanation for the discrepancy between the gender ratio obtained in referred (approximately 4 boys to 1 girl) and nonreferred (1.2 to 1.5 boys to 1 girl) samples of individuals with RD. Specifically, the hyperactive and impulsive behaviors exhibited by boys with RD may be more disruptive than the inattentive behaviors exhibited by girls and may therefore precipitate more frequent referrals for clinical attention.

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