Is there a relationship between Adverse Childhood Experiences and Reading Comprehension Difficulties mediated by Executive Function?

Assignment type: Essay
Author: Rosalind Keefe
Submitted: October 2020

Research has shown that children affected by adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are more likely to have difficulties with executive function. Research has also highlighted that reading comprehension is a complex process that is supported by executive functions including working memory, inhibition, shifting, planning and metacognition. In this essay I propose that ACE exposure may increase reading comprehension difficulties mediated by poorer executive functioning. ACE exposure is known to predict poorer academic outcomes, including reading ability but, at present, limited research has attempted to investigate specific factors underpinning this relationship.

In this essay, I outline research that has explored the relationship between executive function and ACEs and also executive function and reading comprehension. I will then bring these topics together to consider what the evidence is to directly support the essay question.

Overall, there is a lack of research in this area and this prevents firm conclusions from being drawn, at present. However, I argue that despite this, the current research suggests this is an important area for future research. I highlight a number of challenges within this topic including; the challenges with defining and measuring executive function, a lack of research within the topic of ACEs, as a whole, and variation in developmental outcomes depending on the ACE. These are important considerations for future research in this topic. In the final section, I highlight some potential implications for educational psychologists and teachers.

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