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Pragmatic aspects of communication and language comprehension in groups of children differentiated by teacher ratings of inattention and hyperactivity.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date11/2007
JournalBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology
Number of pages14
Original languageEnglish


Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experience pragmatic language deficits, but it is not known whether these difficulties are primarily associated with high levels of inattention, hyperactivity, or both. We investigated pragmatic aspects of communication and language comprehension in relation to poor attention and/or high hyperactivity in a nondiagnosed population of 7-11-year-olds. Classroom teachers rated their pupils’ attention and hyperactivity/impulsivity on the ADD-H Comprehensive Teacher Rating Scale (ACTeRS). The three groups were formed: children with poor attention and low hyperactivity (poor attention group), children with good attention and high hyperactivity (high hyperactivity group), children with both poor attention and high hyperactivity (poor attention/high hyperactivity group). Their performance was compared with that of same-age controls in two studies: Study One (N=94) investigated the comprehension of figurative language in and out of context; Study Two (N=100) investigated pragmatic aspects of communication using the Children’s Communication Checklist – Second Edition. Two groups, the poor attention and the poor attention/high hyperactivity groups, were impaired in both their comprehension of figurative language and their communication skills. The high hyperactivity group was impaired in their comprehension of figurative language but they did not exhibit communication impairments. The findings extend work with clinical populations of children with ADHD: Even in a nondiagnosed sample of children, poor attention and elevated levels of hyperactivity are associated with pragmatic language weaknesses.

Bibliographic note

Please contact Kate Cain k.cain@lancs.ac.uk for the pdf of this paper