by Linda E. Spencer, PhD
Educational demands for language processing present ongoing challenges for students who have ADHD and problems with language comprehension. The prevalence of co-occurring ADHD and language processing disorder is substantial: About 20 to 30 percent of students with ADHD will also have some form of challenge in the area of language, and 25 to 50 percent of students coded with speech/language disability also have ADHD. When the primary concern is ADHD, problems with language processing may be attributed incorrectly to the ADHD. As a result, students may not receive effective interventions and other educational supports.
Children who are “late talkers” (fewer than 50 words at 24 months of age) usually are referred to early intervention specialists, where they receive services from a speech-language pathologist and other specialists. The majority of late talkers are using sentences that are similar to those of their peers by the time they complete kindergarten, and often they no longer qualify for special services. Still, many students with an early diagnosis of language impairment continue to underperform compared to age-matched peers, even when they no longer qualify for school services.
We are coming to regard language impairment as a lifelong problem for many of our children who were late to start talking, just as we now are recognizing ADHD as a lifespan challenge. These challenges affect the students’ ability to understand and produce sentences and longer language units, to recall factual information from text, to explain concepts, and to write responses. Read the rest of this entry »