ADHD News & Research

Inattention, Impulsivity Contribute Significantly to Social Impairment in Children with ADHD/ASD vs. Children with ASD Only

Researchers at the University of Michigan found a link between two hallmark ADHD symptoms — inattention and impulsivity/hyperactivity — and greater social dysfunction among children with ADHD and children with both autism and ADHD; this link did not exist at all in children with only autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

June 27, 2019

The hallmark ADHD symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity are linked to increased social challenges for children with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) vs. those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Researchers from the University of Michigan published these findings in the Journal of Attention Disorders1 following an attempt to determine which interventions could most effectively promote social skills among children with ADHD, ASD, or both diagnoses.

Researchers assessed participants’ attention functioning and intellectual functioning using Wechsler tests and the Conners Kiddie Continuous Performance Test – Second Edition (CPT-II). Caregivers reported on day-to-day inattentiveness and hyperactivity/impulsivity using the Conners Third Edition, and the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) to assess social functioning.

In patients with ADHD alone, attention measures contributed to 48% of the variance in total Social Responsiveness Scale scores, with hyperactivity/impulsivity reported by caregivers as the strongest factor. In patients with both ASD and ADHD, attention measures, largely inattention problems, accounted for 40% of the variance. Patients with ASD alone displayed no associations between attention measures and social responsiveness.

Researchers conclude that since attention functions may be associated with social impairment among children with ADHD, targeted cognitive interventions need to be highlighted in early childhood.

Ng, R., Heinrich, K., & Hodges, E. Associations Between ADHD Subtype Symptomatology and Social Functioning in Children With ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Comorbid Diagnosis: Utility of Diagnostic Tools in Treatment Considerations. Journal of Attention Disorders. (Jun. 2019) https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1087054719855680

Updated on July 4, 2019

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  1. Hi there,

    I would like to question this article. I work with children who have various developmental differences, one of them being Autism Spectrum Disorder. In the DSM-V one of the criteria for diagnosis of ASD is social communication disorder. How can a child with ASD alone be shown to have no social impairment? They would not have a diagnosis of ASD without it.

    Nicole

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