A study by Taanila and colleagues (2014) published in the Journal of Attention Disorders (Vol. 18) examined the impact of ADHD symptoms and specific learning difficulties on school performance and educational aspirations. Results indicated that having ADHD, or having ADHD in addition to specific learning difficulties was associated with poorer school grades, and lower educational aspirations in adolescents.
Previous research has demonstrated a strong link between learning difficulties and ADHD. For example some studies have found that up to 70% of children with ADHD also have co-existing learning difficulties (Mayes & Calhoun, 2006). It has been suggested that the presence of both ADHD and a specific learning difficulty results in significantly poorer academic achievement than ADHD alone.
Results and Conclusions
Researchers found that having ADHD, or having ADHD and a specific learning difficulty predicted school grades and performance. These individuals had much lower average school grades, and were also significantly more likely to repeat a grade compared to individuals without ADHD, or co-exisitng ADHD and specific learning difficulties. Further to this, adolescents with co-existing ADHD and specific learning difficulties had less ambitious educational aspirations than their peers, for example many did not plan on completing higher education. The conclusions from the study were that ADHD and co-existing learning difficulties should be identified as early as possible, and in addition these children should receive extensive educational support. Similarly, other factors such as the negative feedback children with ADHD often receive due to behavioral problems should be examined as this may cause these children to dislike school and as a result, underachieve.
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