ADHD News & Research

Study: Preschool Students with ADHD Significantly Impaired in School Readiness

Preschool students diagnosed with ADHD show significant impairments in four out of five key measurements of school readiness including social and emotional development; approaches to learning; language development; physical well-being and motor development; and cognition and general knowledge, according to new research from the Stanford University School of Medicine.

July 23, 2019

Preschool students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) are far less ready for elementary school than are their neurotypical peers, according to research published in Pediatrics1 by the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The study found that 79% of 4 and 5 year olds with ADHD had impaired school readiness compared to 13% of their peers in a control group. Preschoolers with ADHD were 73 times more likely than their peers to have impaired approaches to learning, 6 times more likely to have impaired language development, 7 times more likely to have impaired social and emotional development, and three times more likely to have impaired physical health and motor development, according to the study.

Ninety-three children ages 4 to 5 years were divided into two groups: 45 with diagnosed ADHD symptoms and 48 without ADHD. To determine school readiness, researchers administered assessments and parental questionnaires concerning the four kindergarten criteria noted above, plus cognition and general knowledge. The children with ADHD performed similarly to their peers in the areas of cognition and general knowledge, but much more likely to struggle in all other areas measured.

Irene Loe, M.D., the senior author of the study, concluded that “We need to help general pediatricians figure out how they can flag kids who might be at risk for school failure.” She also stated the importance of getting better access to behavioral therapy for preschoolers with ADHD — the primary recommended ADHD treatment for this age group that is not always covered by insurance.

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1 Hannah T. Perrin, Nicole A. Heller, Irene M. Loe. “School Readiness in Preschoolers With Symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.” Pediatrics (Jul. 2019). 10.1542/peds.2019-0038