To compare the ways of evaluating arithmetic skills in Brazilian children with ADHD by combining three validated neuropsychological tests and determining whether they are sensitive to the methylphenidate treatment.
Forty-two children (9‒12 years old) participated in the present study: 20 were children with ADHD (DSM-IV) and 22 were age-matched controls. A classification criterion was used for each test separately and one, for their combination to detect the presence of arithmetic difficulties at two time points: baseline (time 1); and when children with ADHD were taking 0.3‒0.5 mg/kg of methylphenidate (time 2). The study also assessed children’s subtraction performance, combining parts of these tests.
Separately, the tests were only sensitive to differences between groups without medication. However, by combining the three neuropsychological tests, we observed a difference and detected a reduction in arithmetic difficulties associated with the methylphenidate treatment. The same effects were found in subtraction exercises, which require a borrowing procedure.
The present study detected arithmetic difficulties in Brazilian children with ADHD and the effects of methylphenidate. Given this improvement in sensitivity, combining tests could be a promising alternative when working with limited samples.