UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Children's pre-existing perceptions of ADHD behaviours predict their sociometrics given to peers with ADHD Na, Jennifer Jiwon


Children with ADHD show severe impairment in their peer relationships (Hoza, 2007; Whalen & Henker, 1992). Investigations of why children with ADHD experience difficulties in their peer relationships have nearly exclusively focused on the characteristics of children with ADHD that contribute to social rejection by their peers. Meanwhile, the contributions that the peers make to the social impairment of children with ADHD have not been explored. This study examined children’s pre-existing perceptions of ADHD as a potential contribution of the peer group to the impairment of peer relationships in children with ADHD. Participants were 137 children (male = 66; ADHD diagnosis = 24; 6-9 years) who were unacquainted prior to the study and participated in a 2-week summer camp. At the start of the camp, children read about a hypothetical child with ADHD and were asked to rate their inclination to like the hypothetical child, attribution of uncontrollability for ADHD behaviours, and inclination to help the hypothetical child. On the last day of the camp, their sociometrics (“like”, “dislike”, friend nominations and liking ratings) given to previously unacquainted, real- life classmates with ADHD were measured. Results showed that children have pre-existing attitudes and beliefs about children with ADHD that predict their nominations and ratings given to new, previously unacquainted peers with ADHD. Findings shed light to why peer relationships for children with ADHD may remain impaired even after receiving medication or behavioural treatment for ADHD symptoms—as these treatments do not attempt to alter the pre-existing beliefs and attitudes held by peers toward children with ADHD. Clinical implications and future directions are discussed.

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