Social skills knowledge and performance in children with ADHD: an examination of interfering responses
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AbstractBased on the social skills classification system by Gresham (1988, 2001) and the work of Wheeler and Carlson (1994), the present study examined social skills knowledge and performance in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), considering four possible interfering responses (impulsivity, aggression, anxiety/depression, academic achievement). It was hypothesised that anxiety/depression and low academic achievement would be related to social skills knowledge deficits, while aggression and impulsivity would be related to social skills performance deficits. Differences in social skills knowledge and performance between ADHD subtypes were also examined. Participants were 80 children, aged 11 to 14 years, who met criteria for ADHD, and one of their parents. Parents completed the Barkley Clinical Interview for ADHD (Barkley, 1997a) via telephone, and families were visited in their homes for the administration of the Social Skills Rating System (Parent Form; Gresham & Elliott, 1990), a social knowledge interview developed for the present study, the Self-Control Rating Scale (Kendall & Wilcox, 1979), the Child Behavior Checklist (Achenbach, 1991) , and the Wide Range Achievement Test-3. Hypotheses were partially supported. Results of regression analyses indicated that social skills knowledge was predicted by anxiety/depression and academic performance, but not by aggressive behaviour. Social skills performance was predicted by impulsivity, aggressive behaviour, and unexpectedly, anxiety/depression, but not by academic achievement. Children with predominantly inattentive ADHD symptoms (ADHD-I) demonstrated significantly more knowledge of self control and cooperation with respect to social situations than did children with combined ADHD symptoms (ADHD-C). Children with both subtypes demonstrated both strengths and weaknesses in social skills performance. Children with ADHD-C were more assertive than children with ADHD-I, while children with ADHD-I were more cooperative than children with ADHD-C. Clinical implications of these findings were discussed with respect to the development of social skills training programs that are tailored to meet the needs of children with both subtypes of ADHD, and that focus on providing a strong generalisation component to encourage performance of acquired social skills.
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