Writing Abilities Longitudinally Predict Academic Outcomes of Adolescents With ADHD

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Abstract

Students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often experience a host of negative academic outcomes, and deficits in reading and mathematics abilities contribute to these academic impairments. Students with ADHD may also have difficulties with written expression, but there has been minimal research in this area and it is not clear whether written expression abilities uniquely contribute to the academic functioning of students with ADHD. The current study included a sample of 104 middle school students diagnosed with ADHD (Grades 6–8). Participants were followed longitudinally to evaluate whether written expression abilities at baseline predicted student grade point average (GPA) and parent ratings of academic impairment 18 months later, after controlling for reading ability and additional relevant covariates. Written expression abilities longitudinally predicted both academic outcomes above and beyond ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder symptoms, medication use, reading ability, and baseline values of GPA and parent-rated academic impairment. Follow-up analyses revealed that no single aspect of written expression was demonstrably more impactful on academic outcomes than the others, suggesting that writing as an entire process should be the focus of intervention.

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