Psychostimulant and Sensory Stimulation Interventions That Target the Reading and Math Deficits of Students With ADHD

Sydney S. Zentall, Kinsey Tom-Wright, Jiyeon Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this review of students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was to summarize the following: (1) academic deficits in math and reading, (2) possible theoretical contributors to these deficits, and (3) psychostimulant interventions that target math and reading, as well as, parallel interventions involving sensory stimulation. Method: A comprehensive examination of the literature was conducted on children with ADHD with and without co-occurring disabilities, summarizing their reading and math achievement and the effects of psychostimulant and sensory stimulant interventions on these academic areas. Results: Students without co-occurring disabilities (ADHD-) had fewer deficits in reading than in math and than students with co-occurring disabilities (ADHD+). Furthermore, students with ADHD+ demonstrated greater responsiveness to psychostimulants through improved reading recognition and math calculations, with limited gains in literal reading comprehension. Added sensory stimulation produced differential gains for both groups in reading recognition and comprehension and in math calculations and problem solving. Conclusion: The efficacy of psychostimulants was documented on specific areas of achievement for the ADHD+ group, but this review did not support the administration of psychostimulants for students with ADHD-. For both groups of students, differential gains, losses, and habituation were documented in response to sensory stimulation for both subareas within reading and math, which were interpreted as support for the optimal stimulation theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)308-329
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Attention Disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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