A child's academic performance often also suffers from ADHD. Dr Jörg-Tobias Kuhn and his team from the University of Münster have now discovered exactly how ADHD affects math skills.
Four groups were compared
109 elementary school children from the second to the fourth grade took part in the study. The students were divided into four groups:
- 33 children with dyscalculia
- 16 children with ADHD
- 20 children with dyscalculia and ADHD
- 40 unimpaired children (control group)
Base numerical processing, computational skills, working memory and attention capacity were studied.
Children with dyscalculia or a comorbidity of dyscalculia and ADHD exhibited difficulties in all base numerical tasks. In addition, they had problems calculating in general and with the performance of the working memory. In addition, they made a lot of mistakes during the sustained attention task.
The problems of children with ADHD or ADHD/dyscalculia were more selective. The results were worse especially in the areas of subtraction, counting and verbal working memory. The attention performance was on average lower than that of the control group.
As was expected, the control group achieved significantly higher values in the processing of math tasks than the two other groups. The ADHD group nevertheless achieved higher values than the two dyscalculia groups.
However, no differences could be found in the mathematical skills between the dyscalculia group and the ADHD/dyscalculia group. The ADHD symptoms of the ADHD group and the ADHD/dyscalculia group were likewise similar.
The researchers concluded that there is a pattern of abnormalities for children with ADHD, which differs from children with dyscalculia. However, if a comorbidity occurs, the cognitive deficits are compounded so that the areas that were noticed in the ADHD group as well as the areas of the dyscalculia group are both affected.