NEW YORK Aug 23 Children with attention-deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to have writing
problems such as poor spelling and grammar than their peers,
according to a study.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC), close to 10 percent of children aged four to 17 in the
United States have ever been diagnosed for ADHD, a number that
has been on the rise in recent years.
The study, led by Slavica Katusic from the Mayo Clinic and
reported in Pediatrics, included close to 6,000 children --
everybody born in Rochester Minnesota, the site of the Mayo
Clinic, between 1976 and 1982 and who was still living there
after age 5.
"Writing is a critical skill for academic success, social
and behavioral well-being," Katusic told Reuters Health, noting
that written-language disorders are often overlooked by teachers
She added that if writing problems aren't noticed and
addressed early on in children with ADHD, they can suffer long
Katusic and her colleagues tracked school, tutoring and
medical records to see which children showed signs of ADHD, as
well as how well they performed on writing, reading and general
intelligence tests throughout high school.
In total, 379 children fit the criteria for ADHD, which was
more common in boys than girls. Of all the children in the
study, just over 800 scored poorly on tests of writing
abilities, and most with writing problems had reading
difficulties as well.
Writing problems were much more common in both boys and
girls with ADHD, with close to two-thirds of boys with ADHD
having problems with writing. That compared to one in six of
their peers without ADHD.
For girls, 57 percent with ADHD had a writing problem,
compared to less than 10 percent without ADHD.
Memory and planning problems in children with ADHD may
affect the writing process, the authors said, and ADHD has been
linked to learning disorders in the past.
Many of the children with ADHD seem to have difficulty with
handwriting, said Annette Majnemer, who has studied handwriting
in children with ADHD at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
"It might be partially the fact that they're inattentive and
distract able and hyperactive," she told Reuters Health.
Katusic said that treatment for the ADHD, as well as
individual education plans that address some of those related
difficulties, can help, Katusic said -- especially if they're
"When parents notice something or teachers notice something,
(children) have to be treated not only for ADHD, but they have
to be tested to see if they have other learning problems," she
"It has to be identified early and the treatment has to
(Reporting by Genevra Pittman at Reuters Health; editing by