Academic journal article Cognitie, Creier, Comportament

The Independent Contributions of Negative Peer Functioning and Social/familial Risk Factors to Symptoms of Adhd among Italian Primary School Children

Academic journal article Cognitie, Creier, Comportament

The Independent Contributions of Negative Peer Functioning and Social/familial Risk Factors to Symptoms of Adhd among Italian Primary School Children

Article excerpt

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is currently one of the most prevalent disorders seen in childhood (Merikangas et ak, 2010) affecting 6 to 7 percent of school-aged children (Willcutt, 2012). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V) classifies it as age inappropriate behavioral symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity/ impulsivity (American Psychiatry Association, 2013). Among the main challenges for this syndrome is the fact that it appears to occur in presence of various social and behavioral comorbidity factors (Jensen et al., 2001; Newcom et al., 2001), including negative peer functioning and aversive behaviors to peers (Biederman, Faraone & Monuteaux, 2002) and low levels of social competence (Biederman et al., 2004; Maedgen & Carlson, 2000). In addition, several studies have shown that ADHD is associated with low socio-economic status, family disturbance and various social risk factors (Counts, Nigg, Stawicki, Rappley, & Von Eye, 2005; DuPaul, McGoey, Eckert, & VanBrakle, 2001). These facts, together with the absence of an adequate diagnosis, favor the probability of both under-diagnosing and over-diagnosing children with ADHD (Cuffe, Moore, & Me Keown, 2005).

Indeed, previous research has demonstrated that children who suffer from ADHD symptoms but haven't been formally diagnosed with ADHD report equally academic, social, emotional difficulties and other impairments as diagnosed children (Barry, Lyman, & Klinger, 2002; Polderman, Boomsma, Bartels, Verhulst, & Huizink 2010). Overall, this raises several questions concerning possible independent contributions of behavioral and relational factors and how environmental risk factors contribute to the expression of ADHD symptoms. Specifically, despite the established link between ADHD symptoms and impaired peer functioning, a number of limitations remain in the literature. First, very few studies have showed that peer relationship problems may exacerbate ADHD symptoms (Tseng, Kawabata, Shur-Fen Gau, & Crick, 2014) moreover, relatively little is known regarding the unique relationship of children's peer functioning and inattention versus hyperactivity/impulsivity. The two groups of symptoms may each be linked to specific peer problems (Hoza, 2007). Last, since maladaptation is a result of reciprocal transactions between individuals and their socio-ecological contexts (Cicchetti & Rogosch, 2002) considering social/familial risk factors and peer functioning together will contribute to our knowledge regarding specific pathways trough which symptoms of ADHD occur. Indeed, a better understanding of these issues would facilitate our understanding and treatment of ADHD. Accordingly, in the current study, we examined the association of negative and positive peer functioning and the presence or absence of social risk factors with the onset of ADHD symptoms among a group of Italian primary school children.

Peer functioning, social risk factors and ADHD symptoms

It has been documented that early childhood manifestations of negative peer functioning and aversive behaviors to peers are usually associated with ADHD's symptomatologies (Loeber, Burke, Lahey, Winters, & Zera, 2000), while several studies found that aggression or conduct problems in childhood contributed to the persistence of ADHD well beyond childhood (Gittelman, Mannuzza, Shenker, & Bonagura, 1985; Loney, Kramer, & Milich, 1981; Taylor, Sandberg, Thorley, & Giles, 1991). In fact, negative peer experiences, such as dislikes, friendlessness, and peer rejection may deprive a child of important developmental opportunities to interact with peers and friends and to learn social knowledge or practice social skills (Murray-Close et al. 2010), which may lead him or her to continue behaving in maladaptive ways (e.g., being inattentive, hyperactive, or impulsive) during peer interactions (Parker, Rubin, Erath, Wojslawowicz, & Buskirk, 2006). …

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