Connections between reading disability and behavior problems: Testing temporal and causal hypotheses Academic Article uri icon


  • In this study of children's reading and behavior problem status from Grade 2 to Grade 4 of elementary school, we tested hypotheses concerned with the temporal and causal connections between these two closely associated disorders. Children with both, either, or neither kinds of problems were followed up over 2 years. While reading disability remained stable over time, there was greater variability in behavior problem status. Our data did not support the claim that reading problems lead to the development of behavior problems. Children who were comorbid had the worst outcome at follow-up, suggesting that behavior problems may exacerbate reading delay. Reading-disabled children were lower (albeit in the normal range) on intelligence, but when IQ was controlled, large group differences on reading and spelling were still evident. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) type behavior problems significantly differentiated children with comorbid problems from children with behavior problems alone. Sex differences were noted in the association, with two-thirds of reading-disabled boys also having behavior problems and two-thirds of reading-disabled girls having no behavior problems, suggesting that pathways to reading disability may be gender specific.

publication date

  • June 1996