Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared.
Pragmatic deficits and social impairment in children with ADHD
Article first published online: 18 MAY 2013
© 2013 The Authors Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry © 2013 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Volume 54, Issue 12, pages 1275–1283, December 2013
How to Cite
Staikova, E., Gomes, H., Tartter, V., McCabe, A. and Halperin, J. M. (2013), Pragmatic deficits and social impairment in children with ADHD. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 54: 1275–1283. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12082
- Issue published online: 16 NOV 2013
- Article first published online: 18 MAY 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 21 MAR 2013
- NIMH. Grant Number: R01 MH68286
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder;
- pragmatic language;
- social skills
Impaired social functioning has been well documented in individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Existing treatments for ADHD are effective for managing core symptoms, but have limited effectiveness at improving social skills, suggesting that social deficits in ADHD may not be directly related to core symptoms of the disorder. Language problems are also common in ADHD, with accumulating evidence of pragmatic language difficulties. Pragmatic deficits are associated with social impairment in several neurodevelopmental disorders. This study systematically examined pragmatic language functioning in children with ADHD and whether social impairment in ADHD is mediated by pragmatic deficits.
Sixty-three children (28 ADHD; 35 typically developing), ages 7–11 years, underwent a comprehensive assessment of pragmatic language, including parent ratings, standardized tests, and a narrative task. Parents also rated children's social skills on the Social Skills Improvement System.
Children with ADHD had poorer pragmatic language skills relative to peers across all measures, even after controlling for general language abilities. Furthermore, pragmatic abilities as measured by parent ratings, mediated the relation between ADHD and social skills.
Pragmatic language skills are impaired in many children with ADHD and may partially account for high rates of social impairment. Implications for treatment and possible prevention of social problems in children with ADHD are discussed.