ADHD Can Impact Language And Academic Performance
April 22, 2014

Many Youngsters With ADHD Also Struggle With Anxiety And Language Problems

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Children suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are more likely to have language problems, and those issues can ultimately harm academic performance, according to a new study published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

According to the Australian newspaper The Herald Sun, researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and their colleagues looked at 391 children and found that those with ADHD were nearly three times more likely to experience linguistic issues by the age of six.

The youngsters recruited for the study were between the ages of six and eight and were recruited from 43 schools in the Melbourne area. Of the participants, 179 had been diagnosed as having ADHD using the Conners 3 ADHD Index and the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children IV, while 212 were controls, the study authors explained. Oral language skill, academic aptitude and social functioning were also assessed by the researchers.

“We found that 40 percent of children in the ADHD group had language problems, compared to 17 percent of children in the 'control' group. Rates of language problems were similar in boys and girls with ADHD,” lead author Dr. Emma Sciberras told HealthDay News reporter Serena Gordon.

After adjusting for sociodemographic factors and child comorbidities, the investigators reported that children with ADHD had a higher prevalence of language problems than the control subjects. Furthermore, those youngsters had worse reading, math computational, and academic competence levels than those with just ADHD. Language problems were not correlated with worsened social functioning, the authors noted.

“The differences in academic functioning between children with ADHD and language problems, compared to those with ADHD alone, were quite large and clinically meaningful,” Dr. Sciberras told Gordon.

While she admitted that the researchers were “surprised that language problems were not associated with poorer social functioning” for kids with ADHD, she said that it could be because they “are already experiencing poorer social functioning due to other factors including their ADHD symptoms or other associated difficulties.”

A second study, also headed up by Dr. Sciberras, found that nearly two-thirds of kids with the neurodevelopmental disorder also suffered from one or more anxiety issues. Her team is currently conducting a pilot study that uses cognitive behavior therapy to treat those youngsters with ADHD and anxiety, according to The Herald Sun.

“It is very common for children with ADHD to experience additional difficulties,” Sciberras told HealthDay News. “Both of these studies demonstrate that the additional difficulties that go along with ADHD, in this case anxiety and language problems, can make daily functioning even harder for children with ADHD.”