Attentional impairment and processing speed in children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
The behavioral and cognitive symptomology that children with ADHD typically show can have a widespread impact on their overall functioning in everyday life. Children with ADHD may show poor short term memory, poor organizational skills, difficulty with goal directed behavior, difficulty regulating emotions, and difficulty shifting from one task to another. Children with ADHD have shown a higher risk for learning problems, substance abuse, psychopathology, and difficulty with social situations. Children with ADHD are at a significantly increased risk for school failure, and are more likely to repeat at least one school grade, and are at-risk for dropping out of school in adolescence. The present study compared children diagnosed with ADHD Primarily Inattentive Type to children diagnosed with ADHD Combined Type and to children without a diagnosis of ADHD. Additionally, this study examined the Attentional Impairment Index for use in the diagnosis of ADHD in children and the differentiation of its subtype. Furthermore, the impact of processing speed and working memory as predictors of ADHD subtype was studied. Participants in the current study were approximately 283 children between the ages of7 and 19 years of age. Separate MANOVAs were conducted to see if there were differences between Processing Speed and Working Memory Index scores, and scores from a battery of neuropsychological assessments. Results indicated that neither index score was a significant predictor of ADHD subtype in children. However, it was found that children without ADHD performed better on the neuropsychological assessments than did the children with ADHD. Finally, an ANOVA was conducted to see if there were differences between the Attentional Impairment Index score among diagnostic groups. No statistically significant differences were found. The results provides evidence that the neuropsychological profile of children diagnosed with ADHD differs from that of children without a diagnosis of ADHD and that the profiles of children diagnosed with ADHD-I differ from that of children diagnosed with ADHDC. The current study demonstrated that the battery of assessment instruments used has the potential to differentiate between ADHD subtypes in an objective way, as opposed to the rather subjective method of diagnosis currently in use.