Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a commonly diagnosed psychiatric condition among children (Hill, 2000). Approximately 35%-50% of children who have been diagnosed with ADHD have a language impairment (Cohen, Vallance, Barwick, Im, Menna, & Horodezky, 2000). Because children with ADHD have short attention spans, low frustration tolerance, an inability to recognize possible consequences and difficulty completing tasks, their behaviors may be disruptive (Barkley, 2003). They may have trouble sitting still, controlling their impulses and thinking before speaking. ADHD children often face difficulties with the development of language and communication skills including pragmatics, behavioral issues and metacognition. Speech and Language Pathologists (SLPs) play a vital role in treating children with language or communication deficits caused by ADHD through the use of social skills training. By understanding the link of ADHD and language deficits, SLPs can understand how to identify and treat children with ADHD.
Impact on Language
Pragmatics is the appropriate use of language within social and situational context (Bruce, Thernlund, & Nettelbladt, 2006). Children with ADHD (herein after referred to as children) demonstrate deficits in pragmatics. For instance, the child may be sitting in the middle of class yelling out answers on a test unnoticeably curious about knowing the correct answer. These children may also exhibit inappropriate turn taking skills within conversational speech, such as talking excessively or interrupting people (Geurts et al., 2008). Oftentimes, children with ADHD may be unaware of what is happening in their surroundings and feel the urge to move (Mahone, 2011). This in turn discourages the child from being able to focus on academics. Further research shows that as demands increase in school, students with ADHD may become mentally fatigued and have difficulty with sustained performance and thus increase distractibility (Mahone, 2011). This important factor has led to controversy of treatment techniques for the large variants in symptoms.
Understanding the relationship between ADHD and language deficits is crucial for SLPs because it leads to more effective treatments. Recognizing the comorbidity of conditions that simultaneously occur with ADHD is important for managing ADHD. The comorbidity of language disorders with ADHD is difficult to determine since the symptoms and signals of one are often the same for the other (Geurts & Embrechts, 2008). By focusing on the impact of ADHD on language development, SLPs will be able to treat the communication deficits and by doing this, address the root of the child’s social and academic decline (Geurts et al., 2008). Geurts et al. (2008) found that interventions conducted by SLPs have the potential to reduce the comorbidity rate and lessen the impact that ADHD may have on a child's life. Of the 3,208 children with ADHD, aged 6 to 11, who were tested,...