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Reading difficulties, comorbid conditions and executive functions : An evaluation of the additive risk model

Booth, J. and Boyle, J. and Kelly, S. (2011) Reading difficulties, comorbid conditions and executive functions : An evaluation of the additive risk model. In: British Psychological Society Developmental Psychology Section Annual Conference 2011, 2011-09-07 - 2011-09-09, Northumbria University.

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Reading difficulties affect 10-15% of school children and are often found to be comorbid with other developmental difficulties. For example, the comorbidity with ADHD is reported as 15-45% and approximately 50% for Specific Language Impairment. In some cases however, children have more than one comorbid condition. Executive function difficulties have been identified in each of these areas of difficulty however it is not known to what extent having a number of comorbid conditions increases severity. The present study explores whether comorbidity influences the severity of a child’s reading difficulty employing an additive risk model and whether this extends to executive function task performance. 213 children with reading difficulties were evaluated for ADHD symptoms and oral language difficulties and also completed tasks assess working memory and inhibition. While almost 52% were found to have RD and one other comorbid condition, 30% had difficulties across all three areas. Results found that the number of comorbid conditions significantly predicted the severity of children’s reading difficulty. A similar pattern emerged for executive function task performance, although this was not uniform across all aspects assessed. The results are discussed in relation to implications for service provision and intervention strategies.