University of Kentucky

Poster Title

Goal Comprehension Mediates the Relation Between ADHD and Social Functioning Deficits

Institution

University of Kentucky

Abstract

The core symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are associated with significant academic and social impairment among these children. Notably, children with ADHD are more likely than peers to repeat grades, drop out of school, and have fewer friends. However, few studies have attempted to explain these phenomena in terms of social-cognitive difficulties that these children experience. The present study had two purposes: (1) to examine the extent to which negative social behaviors are exhibited during a playgroup with unacquainted peers and (2) to determine how children’s understanding of story characters’ goals mediates negative social behaviors of children with ADHD in real-life social situations. To address these aims, 8-10-yearold children with a range of ADHD symptoms, as reported by parents and teachers, listened to and recalled two audio-taped fables. Recalls were coded for inclusion of the protagonist’s main goal, as well as other story events linked to this goal. Children then participated in a playgroup session of 6-10 unacquainted children, half of whom met criteria for ADHD. Coders with no knowledge of ADHD symptoms assigned global ratings of several categories of social behavior. Preliminary analyses indicated that teacher and parent report of ADHD symptoms are related to negative behaviors and emotion dysregulation observed during group play. Further analyses will investigate the extent to which children’s understanding of characters’ goals accounts for the relation between ADHD symptoms and negative social behaviors. Findings give insight to the importance of social cognition for understanding the social functioning deficits experienced by children with ADHD.

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Goal Comprehension Mediates the Relation Between ADHD and Social Functioning Deficits

The core symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are associated with significant academic and social impairment among these children. Notably, children with ADHD are more likely than peers to repeat grades, drop out of school, and have fewer friends. However, few studies have attempted to explain these phenomena in terms of social-cognitive difficulties that these children experience. The present study had two purposes: (1) to examine the extent to which negative social behaviors are exhibited during a playgroup with unacquainted peers and (2) to determine how children’s understanding of story characters’ goals mediates negative social behaviors of children with ADHD in real-life social situations. To address these aims, 8-10-yearold children with a range of ADHD symptoms, as reported by parents and teachers, listened to and recalled two audio-taped fables. Recalls were coded for inclusion of the protagonist’s main goal, as well as other story events linked to this goal. Children then participated in a playgroup session of 6-10 unacquainted children, half of whom met criteria for ADHD. Coders with no knowledge of ADHD symptoms assigned global ratings of several categories of social behavior. Preliminary analyses indicated that teacher and parent report of ADHD symptoms are related to negative behaviors and emotion dysregulation observed during group play. Further analyses will investigate the extent to which children’s understanding of characters’ goals accounts for the relation between ADHD symptoms and negative social behaviors. Findings give insight to the importance of social cognition for understanding the social functioning deficits experienced by children with ADHD.