Time to recall the dreaded middle school days when a teacher would say the horrific words, “everyone will be reading aloud today”. The extroverted peers were always excited to be the narrator for the class, but for us ADHD students reading aloud was torture. ADHD is comorbid with reading disorders. This comorbidity is the result of, “reading achievement and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder [sharing] common genetic influences” (Levy 2013). The direct link between these two disabilities is not known, but some research has pointed to epidemiological factors. Meaning experiencing severe problems because of having both ADHD and reading disorders is not a set fate, but it is not easy to overcome.
Children with ADHD have trouble focusing on the same repetitive task for long periods of time. Unfortunately, continued practice is imperative when learning to improve reading abilities. In fact, “disruption of […] attentional mechanisms is thought to play a causal role in reading difficulties” (Levy 2013). When a person cannot focus on the text they are reading for long periods of time their ability to improve their reading is significantly decreased. To solve this issue, children need to be provided supports to improve their attention. Implementing medication or motivational strategies into ADHD students’ lives when they are reading will help make learning to read easier. Stimulant medications normally prescribed to ADHD people has also been found to be, “beneficial for improving reading in children with reading disorder[s]” with and without ADHD (Levy 2013). This effect is due to the increased focus stimulant drugs provide regardless of the brain chemistry of the individual taking the medication. However, when taking medication is not accessible or desirable to the student, teachers need to step in and help. Educators can help improve the reading abilities of their students by offering them supports, but not all teachers refer their students to get supports. The most common predictor of a teacher’s willingness to refer students to get extra supports was the professionals’ personal beliefs and societal norms about referrals. In other words, “a teacher’s attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control” has the biggest and most direct role in determining intention to refer (Lee 2013). If referring a student to get supports does not aid the educator with their learning environment or referring goes against societal beliefs the teacher will be less likely to refer students to get supports. When teachers are informed about how referrals can drastically improve the cognitive functioning of their students’ educators are more likely to provide referrals. Teachers lack of, “knowledge [about ADHD] has been considered a main focus of concern with respect to referral of students with ADHD” (Lee 2013). When teachers, “perceive that school administrators (e.g., principals, counselors) and parents accept the idea of seeking help” educators provide referrals more often (Lee 2013). Suggesting that to improve the reading ability and general supports that ADHD students are receiving, administrators and school staff need to be on the same page about students. Increased communication and teamwork in school settings will help to foster ADHD student growth and learning.
Levy, F., Young, D., Bennett, K., Martin, N., Hay, D. (2013) Comorbid ADHD and mental health disorders: are these children more likely to develop reading disorders?. Springer-Verlag Wien. DOI 10.1007/s12402-012-0093-3
Lee, J. (2013) Predictors of Teachers’ Intention to Refer Students With ADHD to Mental Health Professionals: Comparison of U.S. and South Korea. School Psychology Quarterly. DOI: 10.1037/spq0000046