Exploring relative cognitive strengths among rigorously selected private school students with ADHD

John W., III Wells (2005)

This study is designed to explore cognitive strengths and weaknesses, as assessed with the Woodcock Johnson-Revised Cognitive Battery, of a sample of rigorously selected private school students with ADHD. ADHD is a disorder that can significantly impact cognitive functioning and academic performance. Research strongly indicates deficits in auditory processing, processing speed for individuals with ADHD. Based on research on gifted students with learning disabilities, academically successful students with ADHD may rely on cognitive strengths to compensate for cognitive weaknesses associated with the disorder. It was hypothesized that the sample would yield significant cognitive strengths as well as cognitive weaknesses characteristically associated with ADHD. For the purpose of this study, a Standard Deviation-Difference score of +1 was considered strength whereas a Standard Deviation-Difference score of -1 was considered weakness. A sample of 72 students with ADHD referred for psycho-educational testing from an academically rigorous private school was used for this study. A 7 (broad cognitive ability) by 3 (relative performance: strength, weakness, or neither) crosstabulation was constructed to examine the joint probability of these events. In addition, a 2 (sample: norm versus study) by 3 (relative performance: strength, weakness, neither) chi-square test was conducted for the seven cognitive abilities. Results of this study indicate that fluid reasoning, auditory processing, processing speed, short-term retrieval, and long-term retrieval are significantly different from the norm sample at p <.05. Magnitude of difference was calculated by coefficient of contingency ( C ). Fluid reasoning ( C = .35) and short-term memory ( C = .37) appear to be serve as cognitive strengths whereas auditory processing ( C = .63) and long-term retrieval ( C = .45) appear to be cognitive weaknesses for these students with ADHD. Processing speed ( C = .3) split evenly as strength and weakness. This study demonstrates that these students do have significant cognitive strengths as well as the characteristic weaknesses of students with ADHD. These results have clinical implications for the treatment of ADHD in the academic environment.