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Children with ADHD Face Language Problems

Update Date: Apr 22, 2014 01:53 PM EDT

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a developmental disorder most commonly diagnosed in young children. Symptoms of ADHD include problems with concentration, difficulty in controlling behavior and hyperactivity, which can greatly hinder a child's cognitive growth. In a new study, researchers found that children with ADHD are around three times more likely to have language problems when compared with children without the condition.

"The differences in academic functioning between children with ADHD and language problems, compared to those with ADHD alone, were quite large and clinically meaningful," said Emma Sciberras, a clinical psychologist and post-doctoral research fellow at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Victoria, Australia.

In this study, Sciberras and her team analyzed 179 children with ADHD and 212 children without ADHD. Less than half of the children in the ADHD group were taking medications for their condition. After the researchers accounted for several variables, they found that children with ADHD were 2.8 times more likely than children without ADHD to have language issues. Percentage wise, 40 percent of ADHD children had language problems whereas only 17 percent of the children without ADHD did. The incidence rates for language problems were similar between girls and boys. The researchers noted that difficulty with language was tied to lower academic scores. However, ADHD was not linked to poor social functioning.

"We were surprised that language problems were not associated with poorer social functioning for children with ADHD," Sciberras said according to WebMD. "It could be that children with ADHD are already experiencing poorer social functioning due to other factors including their ADHD symptoms or other associated difficulties."

The researchers added that addressing language difficulties at an early age could greatly affect how children with ADHD develop academically and socially. Social relationships tend to get more complex as children age and ADHD could stand in the way of building good and long-lasting relationships.

The study was published in Pediatrics.

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