Original Article

Child Psychiatry and Human Development

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 353-366

First online:

The Diagnostic Utility of Behavioral Checklists in Identifying Children with ADHD and Children with Working Memory Deficits

  • Tracy Packiam AllowayAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Stirling Email author 
  • , Susan E. GathercoleAffiliated withYork University
  • , Joni HolmesAffiliated withYork University
  • , Maurice PlaceAffiliated withHartlepool Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service, Northumbria University
  • , Julian G. ElliottAffiliated withSchool of Education, University of Durham
  • , Kerry HiltonAffiliated withSchool of Education, University of Durham

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The present study investigated whether children with ADHD and those with working memory impairments have a common behavioral profile in the classroom. Three teacher checklists were used: the Conners’ teacher rating scale (CTRS), the behavior rating inventory of executive function (BRIEF), and the working memory rating scale. The Conners’ continuous performance test (CPT) was also included to determine whether there is a correspondence between performance on this widely used cognitive measure of attention deficits and teacher ratings of classroom behavior. All three behavior scales, but not the CPT, were able to successfully discriminate children with ADHD and those with working memory deficits from typically-developing children. Both the CTRS and the BRIEF discriminated a significant proportion of the children with ADHD from those with working memory deficits, indicating that while both groups exhibit behavioral problems in the classroom, they are characterized by differential attention profiles. The children with ADHD were identified on the basis of oppositional and hyperactive behavior, while those with working memory deficits were more inattentive.


ADHD Attention Working memory Continuous performance test Behavior rating scales