Year of Publication

2009

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth P. Lorch

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard Milich

Abstract

The goal of the current study was to investigate the social skills of a community sample of children that would vary in their level of ADHD symptomatology (e.g., inattention and hyperactivity), with a specific focus on their communication patterns and pragmatic language use (PLU). The study explored whether PLU was associated with, and perhaps accounted for, the social skills problems children with different degrees of ADHD symptomatology experience. Pragmatic language use, ADHD symptomatology, and social skills were examined with traditional standardized measures as well as a detailed investigation of communication patterns and PLU obtained from sampling behaviors from a semi-structured dyadic communication task. A community sample of 54 children between the ages of 9 and 11 years participated.

Pragmatic language use partially mediated the relation between ADHD symptomatology and social skills. These results indicate that although the correlation between ADHD and social skills drops from r = -.649, p < .01 to r = -.478, p < .01, when PLU is entered in the model, the correlation between ADHD and social skills still remains significant. Further, ADHD symptomatology and PLU both predicted social skills scores, and although ADHD symptomatology and PLU were related to one another, PLU provided a unique contribution in the estimate of children’s social skills of 10.5% above and beyond the contribution of ADHD symptomatology. However, ADHD symptomatology was the most influential predictor in uniquely accounting for approximately 19% of the differences in social skills outcomes above and beyond the contribution of PLU.

Possible explanations as to why PLU mediates the relation between ADHD symptomatology and social skills are discussed. Implications and future research are discussed in terms of children with ADHD and peer relations.

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