Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Arts




Friesen, Deanna C.


The current study examined how children with and without Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) deployed their attention while reading and the cognitive processes thought to be related to successful comprehension. 42 children between 9 and 14 years of age read passages during a self-paced reading task. Half of the passages contained semantic inconsistencies. Of interest was the two groups of children’s subsequent comprehension and the extent that they noticed the inconsistencies. The children’s working memory, inferencing ability, verbal and non-verbal intelligence and decoding ability were also measured. Only the typically developing children’s reading times were impacted by the passages’ consistency. That is, the typically developing children spent longer reading the critical words in the inconsistent passages relative to the critical words in the consistent passages. Working memory, verbal and non-verbal intelligence, inferencing ability and decoding ability were all related to the children’s comprehension. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Summary for Lay Audience

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by inattention and/or hyperactivity. Although many children who have ADHD also have reading difficulties, the reasons for this phenomenon remain largely unknown. The aim of the current study was to better understand how children with and without ADHD monitored their comprehension while reading, the impact that their comprehension monitoring had on their subsequent comprehension and to further examine the cognitive processes that have previously been found to be related to reading comprehension. To learn more about these children’s reading, 46 children with and without ADHD read short passages during an online reading task. Half of these passages had two sentences within them whose meanings were contradictory. Of interest was the extent that the two groups of children would notice these contradictory sentences and how they would perform on a true-false test and a text recall that followed the reading task. After completing these reading tasks, the children completed a few tasks that measured their memory, inferencing, intelligence and ability to decode words. The results suggested that whereas the children without ADHD seemed to notice the contradictory sentences, the children with ADHD did not. Additionally, in comparison to their non-ADHD counterparts, the children with ADHD remembered less information from the texts. While working memory, inferencing ability and decoding ability all had roles in the children’s reading comprehension, the group differences found from the reading task might have been driven by group differences in verbal intelligence. This study adds to the existing body of knowledge pertaining to the relationship between reading, attention and comprehension monitoring.