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Center for READing Personnel


David P. Hurford, Ph.D.
(620) 235-4534

Professional Associates

Dr. Chris Christman
(620) 235-4068

Dr. Sean Lauderdale
(620) 235-4526

Dr. Rick Lindskog
(620) 235-4532

Dr. Jan Smith
(620) 235-4537

Graduate Assistants

Shanise Butts, B.S.
(620) 235-4593

Jordan Boux, B.S.
(620) 235-4593

Paraprofessional Tutors

Courtney Swigart
(620) 235-4593

Brogan Hoover
(620) 235-4593


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a neurobiologically-based diagnosis applied to children and adults who consistently display certain characteristic behaviors over a period of time. The most common features include:

  • Distractibility: poor sustained attention to tasks
  • Impulsivity: impaired impulse control and delay of gratification
  • Hyperactivity: excessive activity and physical restlessness

In order to meet diagnostic criteria, these behaviors must be excessive, long-term, and pervasive. The behaviors must appear before age 7, and continue for at least 6 months. A crucial consideration is that the behaviors must create a real handicap in at least two areas of a person's life, such as school, home, work, or social settings. These criteria set ADHD apart from the "normal" distractibility and impulsive behavior of childhood, or the effects of the hectic and overstressed lifestyle prevalent in our society.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) some common symptoms of ADHD include: often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes; often has difficulty sustaining attention to tasks; often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly; often fails to follow instructions carefully and completely; losing or forgetting important things; feeling restless, often fidgeting with hands or feet, or squirming; running or climbing excessively; often talks excessively; often blurts out answers before hearing the whole question; often has difficulty awaiting turn.

To meet diagnostic criteria for ADHD, the behaviors must be:

  • Excessive
  • Long-term
  • Pervasive
  • Appear before age 7 years
  • Continue for at least 6 months
  • Create a handicap in at least two areas of the individual’s life (e.g., school, home, work or social settings)

Please keep in mind that the exact nature and severity of ADHD symptoms varies from person to person. Approximately one-third of people with ADHD do not have the hyperactive or overactive behavior component, for example.

Why Assess for ADHD?

Approximately 30 to 50% of children with reading difficulties also experience ADHD, and nearly all children with ADHD have some difficulties with reading. There are several types of ADHD. Although all of the types involve a child not being able to maintain attention, not all of the types involve hyperactivity. Therefore, your child could struggle with keeping attention during demanding or less stimulating tasks which do not involve excessive amounts of behavior. Some areas of ADHD involve children simply not being able to attend to the task at hand. There is no jumping out of one's seat or excessive amounts of inappropriate behavior. So, it is possible for a child to have ADHD primarily inattentive type without you really knowing. Of course, you might notice that your child may not be able to remember instructions or "forget" to do something that you just asked him or her to do.

At the Center for READing we routinely assess all of our children for ADHD. We do this because many times a parent will bring in his or her child to be assessed because of a reading problem only to find that his or her child has good phonological processing and reading skills, but has difficulties with attention. It is sometimes difficult to know which difficulty is present without a thorough examination of both possibilities. The behaviors associated with dyslexia and ADHD, particularly in young children, can appear similar. For example, it will be so difficult for a child who has ADHD to attend to the reading task that it might appear that he or she has dyslexia. A child who has dyslexia is going to have difficulty maintaining attention to a task they he or she is not capable of achieving. It is imperative to examine both reading and attentional skills to determine the nature of the difficulty.

As can be seen in the table below, there are four classifications of ADHD:

ADHD Categories and Descriptions
ADHD Category
Predominantly Inattentive Type
Characterized by difficulty in sustaining attention, distractibility, lack of task persistence, and disorganization.
  • often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities
  • often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities
  • often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace
  • often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort
  • often loses things necessary for tasks or activities
  • is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
  • is often forgetful in daily activities
Predominantly Hyperactivity-Impulsive Type
Characterized by excessive motor activity and impulsive responding.
  • often fidgets with hands or squirms in seat
  • often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected
  • often runs or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate to do so
  • often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly
  • is often "on the go' or often acts as if "driven by a motor"
  • often talks excessively
  • often blurts out answers before questions have been completed
  • often has difficulty awaiting a turn
  • often interrupts or intrudes on others
Combined Type
Characterized by inappropriate levels of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity.
  • Same as those listed above for both categories
Not Otherwise Specified (NOS)
This category is for disorders with prominent symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity-impulsivity that do not meet the criteria for ADHD.
For example:
  • The individual's symptoms do not meet the full criteria for ADHD, but his or her behavioral patterns marked by sluggishness, daydreaming, and hypoactivity
  • Individuals whose symptoms meet the criteria for ADHD Predominantly Inattentive Type but whose age of onset is 7 years or later.

An appropriate diagnosis of ADHD should occur only after a team of individuals have each provided their expertise. The information that is necessary for an accurate diagnosis of ADHD involves each of the following:

  1. Family History
  2. Medical History as assessed by medical personnel
  3. Physical Examination
  4. Parent/Teacher Survey of Child's behavior at home and at school
  5. Continuous Performance Test

You could have your child assessed by the appropriate individuals who can determine if your child has ADHD. It is important that the diagnosis involve the types of information described above.

If you would like, you could have your child take a continuous performance test to get an idea of further consideration is warranted. This might be particularly important if you have no other clues that your child might be experiencing ADHD. This is more likely going to be the case for ADHD Primarily Inattentive Type than it would be for ADHD Primarily Hyperactivity-Impulsive Type. Children who have ADHD Primarily Hyperactivity-Impulsive Type are usually quite obvious in their excessive and inappropriate levels of behavior, while children with ADHD Primarily Inattentive Type are very often not obvious in their inattentiveness. When children's behavior in a classroom is disruptive, every one notices. When a child is sitting quietly in his or her seat, not disrupting the class in any way, but also not able to stay on task or to attend to the instruction, it may be difficult to immediately notice. It is for this reason, that we typically request that parents consider ADHD testing to factor out attentional difficulties and how attentional problems might be affecting reading.

Center for READing

See Our Research

The research that is generated by the Center for READing is concerned with three areas:

  • Etiology
  • Identification
  • Remediation

This section provides information regarding the technical information associated with the identification techniques and the training paradigm used by the Center for READing.