Reading and Writing

, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 1403–1426 | Cite as

Written expression performance in adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

  • Tony DeBono
  • Armita Hosseini
  • Cassandra Cairo
  • Karen Ghelani
  • Rosemary Tannock
  • Maggie E. Toplak


We examined written expression performance in a sample of adolescents with ADHD and subthreshold ADHD using two different strategies: examining performance on standardized measures of written expression and using other indicators of written expression developed in this study. We examined associations between standardized measures of written expression, cognitive processing measures (working memory, processing speed, language, fine motor ability, and reading efficiency) and behavioral ratings of ADHD by parents and teachers. We also developed a coding scheme for a writing sample to measure productivity and the ratio of self-corrections to errors. The results indicated that written expression performance was most consistently associated with cognitive processing measures and not behavioral ratings of ADHD, based on correlational and simultaneous regression analyses. These results were consistent in the analyses with both the standardized measures and the coding scheme measures of written expression. Findings generally remained robust, regardless of whether participants who met criteria for a learning disability were included or excluded in the analyses. The current results suggest that written expression difficulties in adolescents with ADHD are attributable to processing difficulties that may be associated with ADHD, not to ADHD reported symptoms. Implications for assessment and intervention are discussed.


ADHD Adolescents Written expression Cognitive processing Behavior ratings 



This research was funded in part by an operating grant from the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR # MOP 64312). Salary support was provided by the Canada Research Chairs Program (Rosemary Tannock). The authors also wish to thank Marisa Catapang and Min-Na Hockenberry for assistance with participant recruiting, testing, and data management, and Shauna Kochen and Michael Lima for assistance with data cleaning and for running preliminary analyses. We also thank Anne-Claude Bedard for her suggestions on coding self-corrections.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tony DeBono
    • 1
  • Armita Hosseini
    • 1
  • Cassandra Cairo
    • 1
  • Karen Ghelani
    • 2
  • Rosemary Tannock
    • 2
    • 3
  • Maggie E. Toplak
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Neurosciences and Mental Health Research Program, The Hospital for Sick ChildrenTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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