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23-09-2017 | Uitgave 1/2018

Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment 1/2018

Verbal Working Memory as a Longitudinal Mechanism of Vocabulary Problems in Preschoolers with ADHD

Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment > Uitgave 1/2018
Monica L. Gremillion, Tess E. Smith, Michelle M. Martel


Elucidation of early potential risk factors of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is important to allow for early identification of ADHD and targeted early intervention for children with ADHD. Delayed language skills, particularly poor vocabulary, is an early-developing potential risk factor that is thought to be involved in developmental pathways to ADHD; however, mechanisms explaining the relationship between poor vocabulary skills and ADHD symptoms are unclear and warrant investigation. The present study examines the relationship between poor vocabulary skills and ADHD symptoms by testing cognitive mechanisms, namely verbal working memory (WM), that might account for this link. Participants were 109 young children between the ages of three and six and their primary caregivers. Diagnostic information on ADHD symptoms was available from parents and teachers/daycare providers via standardized rating forms. Vocabulary skills and WM were measured through child performance on laboratory tasks. Mediation analyses found poor verbal working memory significantly partially explained the vocabulary-ADHD association for both parent and teacher-rated ADHD symptoms. Further, effects of verbal WM on the association between poor vocabulary and increased ADHD symptoms largely held at one-year follow-up. Development of early interventions targeting verbal WM may be a promising new direction for early ADHD intervention work.

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