What are the areas of language with which these children have difficulty? Many children with ADD/ADHD do not show language problems on the traditional measures of vocabulary and grammar. Word finding difficulties are usually present. These are most often reported by the parent, teacher, or child rather than identified through language analyses.
Social language skills appear to be the area most affected in these children. They have difficulty taking turns, talking excessively, interrupting others, not listening to what is being said, and blurting out answers to questions before the questions are completed. It appears that these difficulties stem from problems with higher order language tasks that involve extended discourse (conversation) and use language for planning, problem solving and monitoring behavior.
Learning problems in literacy are also related to language deficits identified in children with ADD/ADHD. Phonemic awareness ability (such as sound/symbol knowledge, sound blending, word segmentation, and sound manipulation) has been shown as necessary to success in reading. These skills are one aspect of “metacognition” or the ability to select, control, and monitor the use of thinking (cognitive) strategies. This again is a ‘higher order’ language skill with which many children with ADD/ADHD have difficulty.
Another related problem is the ability to write on a topic (i.e., have each sentence relate to the same topic) and to link each sentence in a logical sequence. Often these children do not know how to plan for this type of task.
If you are concerned with your child’s inability to focus attention and are considering a referral for Attention Deficit Disorder, it would be beneficial to include a full language assessment as part of a total evaluation. This will include an analysis of your child’s metacognition, fluency of speech, as well as abilities in phonology, grammar, vocabulary, comprehension, and social skills. For more information, contact me at ACC on the Lakeshore.