A longitudinal study of neuropsychological functioning and academic achievement in children with and without signs of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
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Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in childhood is associated with poor academic functioning. Deficits in academic functioning have proven to be less responsive to intervention than behavioral deficits in this population, yet the causes of this academic underperformance are not well understood. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between ADHD and academic performance in elementary-aged children in a developmental context. To do this, we study important cognitive variables and academic achievement over a three-year timeframe.Based on teacher ratings of ADHD, children were divided into a high symptom group (n = 17) and a low symptom group (n = 34). A thorough battery of cognitive and academic tests was administered at Time 1 and again 2 years later. Cognitive measures focused specifically on working memory and response inhibition.RESULTS indicate that children who have high levels of ADHD signs differ from their low-sign peers in academic achievement and in several cognitive domains. Differences in cognitive functioning show a developmental trend consistent with earlier developmental delays in response inhibition and later delays in working memory. Working memory appears to be particularly important in several academic domains. Importantly, in a longitudinal model, working memory was more predictive of math achievement for students demonstrating signs of ADHD than for those who did not.The relationship between these cognitive variables and academic functioning are explicated in the domains of reading, math, and problem solving.