ADHD and Language Impairments

Is there a connection?
This study was carried out in collaboration between the University of Bergen and the University of Linköping in Sweden. It was published in the Journal of Attention Disorders.
Full article: www.sciencenordic.com,
Many parents and teachers find that their ADHD child or student has an accompanying language impairment too. We often witness these children struggle to express themselves verbally or in written language. They often speak in bits and pieces while failing to understand the content of conversations. Issuing multiple step directions is confusing to the child.Researcher and Speech Therapist Wenche Andersen Helland of Helse Fonna and Statped Vest in Bergen, Norway conducted research on the language skills of ADHD children. According to www.sciencenordic.com, Helland led a clinical study of 59 children aged 6-12, which showed that kids with ADHD have a poorer understanding of language in social situations than children their age without the disorder – healthy children. Helland also researched over 5600 children aged 7 – 9 and found the same language deficits.

“There is often a one-sided focus on the behavior of kids with ADHD. But these children may have communication problems as they grow older, particularly in a school situation, if their language skills are not given enough attention,” says Helland.

“If we don’t work hard enough to strengthen language development in children with ADHD, we increase the risk that they won’t learn what they should in school.”

“They’ll also be more likely to fall short in social interactions with
their peers. We need to intervene early to prevent a downward spiral,” adds Helland.

This finding may be related to the social difficulties many ADHD children encounter.

Hellen thinks that ADHD children should have their language skills assessed as well, and schools should be notified of the results to provide services if necessary.

This study was carried out in collaboration between the University of Bergen and the University of Linköping in Sweden. It was published in the Journal of Attention Disorders.

Photo: ADHD and Language Impairments<br />
Is there a connection?</p>
<p>Many parents and teachers find that their ADHD child or student has an accompanying language impairment too. We often witness these children struggle to express themselves verbally or in written language. They often speak in bits and pieces while failing to understand the content of conversations. Issuing multiple step directions is confusing to the child. </p>
<p>Researcher and Speech Therapist Wenche Andersen Helland of Helse Fonna and Statped Vest in Bergen, Norway conducted research on the language skills of ADHD children. According to www.sciencenordic.com, Helland  led a clinical study of 59 children aged 6-12, which showed that kids with ADHD have a poorer understanding of language in social situations than children their age without the disorder - healthy children. Helland also researched over 5600 children aged 7 - 9 and found the same language deficits. </p>
<p>“There is often a one-sided focus on the behavior of kids with ADHD. But these children may have communication problems as they grow older, particularly in a school situation, if their language skills are not given enough attention,” says Helland.</p>
<p>“If we don't work hard enough to strengthen language development in children with ADHD, we increase the risk that they won't learn what they should in school.”</p>
<p>“They’ll also be more likely to fall short in social interactions with<br />
their peers. We need to intervene early to prevent a downward spiral,” adds Helland.</p>
<p>This finding may be related to the social difficulties many ADHD children encounter. </p>
<p>Hellen thinks that ADHD children should have their language skills assessed as well, and schools should be notified of the results to provide services if necessary.</p>
<p>This study was carried out in collaboration between the University of Bergen and the University of Linköping in Sweden. It was published in the Journal of Attention Disorders.

ADHD and the Western diet

A study published online in the international Journal of Attention Disorders examines the possible link between ADHD and a ‘Western-style’ diet in children.

The study was conducted by Perth’s Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Australia. The researchers found that a diet typically consumed in the Western world consisting of ‘fast foods,’ sugar/corn syrup, processed meats and flour, fried, and refined foods nearly doubled the risk of an ADHD diagnosis. This Western diet is rich in total fat, saturated fat, refined sugar and sodium.

“We found a diet high in the Western pattern of foods was associated with more than double the risk of having an ADHD diagnosis
compared with a diet low in the Western pattern, after adjusting for numerous other social and family influences. We looked at the dietary patterns amongst the adolescents and compared the diet information against whether or not the adolescent had received a diagnosis of ADHD by the age of 14 years. In our research, 115 adolescents had been diagnosed with ADHD, 91 boys and 24 girls,” says Associate Professor Wendy Oddy.

The Perth researchers analyzed the dietary patterns of 1800 youth and separated them as having  ‘Healthy’ or ‘Western’ patterns. A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and fish was designated as a healthy pattern.

Dr. Oddy added, “When we looked at specific foods, having an ADHD diagnosis was associated with a diet high in takeaway foods, processed meats, red meat, high fat dairy products and confectionary. We suggest that a Western dietary pattern may indicate the adolescent has a less optimal fatty acid profile, whereas a diet higher in omega-3 fatty acids is thought to hold benefits for mental health and optimal brain function. It also may be that the Western dietary pattern doesn’t provide enough essential micronutrients that are needed for brain function, particularly attention and concentration, or that a Western diet might contain more colors, flavors and additives that have been linked to an increase in ADHD symptoms. It may also be that impulsivity, which is a characteristic of ADHD, leads to poor dietary choices such as quick snacks when hungry.”

Of note, the scientists were unable to determine if poor diet causes ADHD or ADHD leads to poor dietary choices and cravings – a problem of antecedence.  Furthermore, the researchers had to determine and adjust for social and family influences. This, in itself could greatly skew final data. 

The British have performed similar studies examining the role of refined or processed foods and ADHD.  Certain food colorings were found to influence hyperactivity.  Knowing this, in addition to research that indicates better cognitive function through better diet, it would be wise to greatly reduce or totally extinguish consumption of fast food, refined and processed foods, etc. if one wishes to maximize one’s cognitive potential.

Diet alone will not solve the ADHD riddle. Cognitive training, memory training, behavioral shaping, and attention training are key ingredients to the solution.