News: Specialized Press

A study shows the direct relationship between attention deficit at a very early age and school failure among adolescents

Source: Pediatrics in June 2009, 123 (6) :1472-1476 / Date: June 2009 / Category: Specialized Press


Scientists at the University of California-Davis have found that there is a direct relationship between the attention problems of children in pre-school/kindergarten and their low academic performance in adolescence, regardless of the intelligence quotient (IQ) that they have.

The research results, which have been published in the journal "Pediatrics" suggest that the inability of younger children to pay attention when they start school as the element that most influences their academic performance at the end of high school.

For the present study data from 693 children who were first studied at five-six years of age and then 17-18 years was studied. In the first tests, behavioral problems of these children and their intelligence quotient were analyzed, while the second looked at the academic performance of the adolescents in math and reading.

Thus, the researchers found that lack of attention in kindergarten was the only behavior from which they could consistently predict future outcomes in reading and mathematics in the individuals studied.

The scientists at UC Davis used data from 693 of these children, and focused on three categories of behavior, according to ratings provided by their teachers: internalized behaviors (such as anxiety or depression), externalizing behaviors (such as playing a role or breaking the rules) and attention problems, including nervousness and inability to focus on a specific activity.

Other factors were also taken into account , such as the IQ of children or the fact that some of them had a psychiatric disorder, in order to establish the most reliable possible relations of all these factors with future academic performance.

By identifying the shortfall in attention in preschool/kindergarten as the behavior problem that most affects academic performance even years later, the study will help determine the focus and direction of care for these children.

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