One-half (50%) of the children who stutter presented with elevated ADHD symptoms. This group needed 25% more clinical treatment visits to achieve successful fluency. - Druker et al, 2019
What is ADHD?
ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is a condition where an individual finds it hard to concentrate on one task and sit still. They might also act before they think. Click here for more information on ADHD.
How does ADHD relate to stuttering?
Children who stutter may have some similar experiences to those who have ADHD. For example, their ability to self-regulate and control their behaviours (Eggers et al, 2012). Studies show that children who stutter may have difficulty shifting attention from one task to the next, and focusing their attention on one activity. The exact prevalence of ADHD in children who stutter is not clear.
So.. what did these researchers do?
Researchers examined the levels of ADHD symptoms in 185 preschool children who stuttered. Half of the study group had elevated ADHD symptoms. These children needed 25% more clinical treatment to achieve successful outcomes than those without high levels of ADHD symptoms.
The study results suggested that children responded more poorly to therapy if they:
- Had more ADHD symptoms
- Had more severe stuttering prior to starting the treatment
- Were male
However, as with any observational study we must be careful when interpreting these results: we cannot say for sure that ADHD symptoms cause children who stutter to require additional therapy. We can only say that there was an association, in the children included in this study. - More research is needed in this growing field to clarify findings from this study.
Druker, K., Hennessey, N., Mazzucchelli, T. & Beilby, J. (2019). Elevated attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms in children who stutter. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 59, 89-90. doi: 10.1016/j.jfludis.2018.11.002
Eggers, K., De Nil, L. & Van den Bergh, B. (2012). The efficiency of attentional networks in children who stutter. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 55(3), 946-959.