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by    Anthony Kane, MD
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Treating ADHD and Reading Disorders

by Anthony Kane, MD

About 30% of children with ADHD also have some form of reading disorder, such as dyslexia. Recently, a study was done to examine whether or not ADHD treatment helped these children with their reading problems. The study was funded by the pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly and Company and was done using their flagship product, Strattera.

In this 16 week study compared two groups of ADHD children. The first group consisted of 20 children with ADHD who had no diagnosed reading disorder. The second group consisted of 36 ADHD children who also had a diagnosed reading disability.

After taking Strattera for 16 weeks, both groups of patients showed almost 50% improvement in their ADHD symptoms like inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Additionally, children who had a reading disorder jumped two years in reading skills from their level before the study.

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Interestingly, the children without reading disabilities also improved their reading skills by almost a year and a half. Both groups improved both in reading ability and in reading comprehension.

In addition, both groups made gains in spelling ability. The ADHD group jumped almost nine months and the group who had a reading disorder along with ADHD jumped almost 10 months.

This study is significant for a number of reasons. First of all, up to 30% of ADHD children also have reading disabilities. While there is no real evidence that having a reading disorder makes a child's ADHD symptoms any worse, it definitely has a negative impact of school performance. The study also shows that even if your child does not have a known reading disability, treating his ADHD may still improve his reading ability significantly.

The results of the study were not all good, however. A number of children had side effects from taking the medication, though none of them serious. Yet Strattera is known to cause some serious side effects, including abnormal mood fluctuations and even suicidal thoughts.

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The results of this study suggest that a child's ADHD interferes with the child's normal ability to read.

I say this because even children with no known reading disability were able to make significant gains in reading level just by receiving treatment for their ADHD. If this is true then it should not matter how you treat the ADHD, as long as you do something to treat it.

With that in mind, significant improvements in reading ability should occur when you use other treatments for ADHD, such as Ritalin, other stimulants, or even natural ADHD treatments. Since no one has yet to investigate the use of other treatments for treating ADHD and reading disorders, no one can say for sure whether or not this speculation is true.

All that we really know so far about the connection of ADHD and reading disorders is that in one small study, ADHD children both with and without reading disabilities were able to make significant gains in their reading level when their ADHD was treated. This study points out that it is extremely important to treat ADHD and that such treatment should help school performance.

Anthony Kane, MD

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Reading Disorders are very common in ADHD children. If you want more information on how to help your ADHD child with his reading problems and more, go to:

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