Presentation Title

The Unique Effects of ADHD Symptoms and Processing Speed on Preschoolers' School Readiness

Project Collaborators

Dr. Betsy Hoza (Professor; Dept. of Psychological Science); Dr. Erin Shoulberg (Research Assistant Professor; Dept. of Psychological Science ); Marissa Dennis (graduate student; Dept. of Psychological Science); Caroline Martin (graduate student; Dept. of Psychological Science); Dr. Lori Meyer (Assistant Professor; Dept. of Education); Dr. Connie Tompkins (Associate Professor; Dept. of Exercise Science)

Time

3:00 PM

Location

Silver Maple Ballroom - Social Sciences

Abstract

Introduction

A substantial body of literature demonstrates the negative association between Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms and academic performance in school-aged children, and a growing body of literature has begun to examine the association of ADHD and academic readiness skills in preschool populations (e.g., Spira & Fischel, 2005). Moreover, processing speed has been linked with reading and math skills, particularly during early elementary school (McGrew & Wendling, 2010). The present study examines the unique effects of ADHD symptoms and processing speed predicting pre-academic skills in a community sample of preschool children, and whether or not processing speed moderates the relation between ADHD symptoms and pre-academic skills.

Methods and Results

A sample of predominantly Head Start preschoolers was drawn from a larger study. Measures of ADHD symptomatology, processing speed, and school readiness were assessed at the beginning of the school year. Hierarchical regression analyses were used to examine the effects of ADHD symptoms and processing speed predicting school readiness outcomes, and the interaction between ADHD symptoms and processing speed predicting school readiness. Age and sex were entered as covariates. In all models, both ADHD symptoms and processing speed were unique predictors of all school readiness outcomes (all p-values <.05). The interaction between ADHD symptoms and processing speed significantly predicted physical and cognitive school readiness (p-values <.05, range of ∆R2 = .02 to .03), and marginally predicted language school readiness (p = 0.54, ∆R2 = .02). For children at low, but not high, levels of processing speed, higher levels of ADHD symptoms predicted lower physical (b = -0.20, p <.001), cognitive (b = -0.24, p <.001), and language school readiness (b = -0.21, p <.001).

Conclusions

Our results indicate that ADHD symptoms and processing speed are unique predictors of preschoolers’ school readiness. Children with higher levels of ADHD symptoms and low processing speed may be particularly impaired in physical, cognitive, and language school readiness domains. Furthermore, processing speed may be protective for children with ADHD symptoms regarding performance in these areas. These findings suggest it is crucial to address both ADHD symptoms and processing speed deficits to support preschoolers’ school readiness and potentially mitigate future academic risk.

References

McGrew, K. S., & Wendling, B. J. (2010). Cattell–Horn– Carroll cognitive-achievement relations: What we have learned from the past 20 years of research. Psychology in the Schools, 47(7), 651-675.

Spira, E. G., & Fischel, J. E. (2005). The impact of preschool inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity on social and academic development: a review. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46(7), 755-773.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Dr. Betsy Hoza

Status

Graduate

Student College

Graduate College

Program/Major

Psychological Science

Primary Research Category

Social Sciences

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The Unique Effects of ADHD Symptoms and Processing Speed on Preschoolers' School Readiness

Introduction

A substantial body of literature demonstrates the negative association between Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms and academic performance in school-aged children, and a growing body of literature has begun to examine the association of ADHD and academic readiness skills in preschool populations (e.g., Spira & Fischel, 2005). Moreover, processing speed has been linked with reading and math skills, particularly during early elementary school (McGrew & Wendling, 2010). The present study examines the unique effects of ADHD symptoms and processing speed predicting pre-academic skills in a community sample of preschool children, and whether or not processing speed moderates the relation between ADHD symptoms and pre-academic skills.

Methods and Results

A sample of predominantly Head Start preschoolers was drawn from a larger study. Measures of ADHD symptomatology, processing speed, and school readiness were assessed at the beginning of the school year. Hierarchical regression analyses were used to examine the effects of ADHD symptoms and processing speed predicting school readiness outcomes, and the interaction between ADHD symptoms and processing speed predicting school readiness. Age and sex were entered as covariates. In all models, both ADHD symptoms and processing speed were unique predictors of all school readiness outcomes (all p-values <.05). The interaction between ADHD symptoms and processing speed significantly predicted physical and cognitive school readiness (p-values <.05, range of ∆R2 = .02 to .03), and marginally predicted language school readiness (p = 0.54, ∆R2 = .02). For children at low, but not high, levels of processing speed, higher levels of ADHD symptoms predicted lower physical (b = -0.20, p <.001), cognitive (b = -0.24, p <.001), and language school readiness (b = -0.21, p <.001).

Conclusions

Our results indicate that ADHD symptoms and processing speed are unique predictors of preschoolers’ school readiness. Children with higher levels of ADHD symptoms and low processing speed may be particularly impaired in physical, cognitive, and language school readiness domains. Furthermore, processing speed may be protective for children with ADHD symptoms regarding performance in these areas. These findings suggest it is crucial to address both ADHD symptoms and processing speed deficits to support preschoolers’ school readiness and potentially mitigate future academic risk.

References

McGrew, K. S., & Wendling, B. J. (2010). Cattell–Horn– Carroll cognitive-achievement relations: What we have learned from the past 20 years of research. Psychology in the Schools, 47(7), 651-675.

Spira, E. G., & Fischel, J. E. (2005). The impact of preschool inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity on social and academic development: a review. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46(7), 755-773.