Children with dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who were treated with the drug atomoxetine showed significant improvement in critical components of reading, including decoding and vocabulary, according to a new study published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology
Researchers evaluated the reading ability and ADHD symptoms in 209 children of normal intelligence aged 10-16 years who had dyslexia, dyslexia and ADHD, or only ADHD.
Each child was treated with atomoxetine (1.0–1.4 mg/kg/day) or a placebo in a 16-week, randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial. Reading abilities were measured with the Woodcock Johnson III (WJIII), Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP), Gray Oral Reading Tests-4, and Test of Word Reading Efficiency.
The study found that the atomoxetine treatment resulted in significant improvements on multiple measures of reading in children and adolescents with dyslexia only or ADHD+D.
The authors say the data builds on previous research demonstrating the role of attentional mechanisms in dyslexia and the potential for pharmacotherapy as a tool in ‘the armamentarium to improve reading in those who have dyslexia’.
As noted earlier, many reading researchers have become disappointed with the results of traditional reading intervention programs that “…can best be described as producing limited successes” (Compton et al. 2014). At the same time, we emphasize that children with dyslexia must be taught to read and that atomoxetine treatment could serve as an effective pharmacologic adjunct to these more traditional school-based reading interventions.
The article is available free to download until 7 October 2016.