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Communication Breakdown: Verbal Interaction with Saudi Children with ADHD

A new study by Dr Wael Al-Dakroury, presented at the 30th World Congress of the International Association of Logopedics and Phoniatrics in Dublin, investigated the possible impact of interlocutor familiarity on verbal interaction in children with ADHD in Saudi Arabia.

The study measured the difference in the total number of words used, total number of verbal turns, average number of words per turn, and the average number of words per minute among boys with ADHD aged between 4-5 years old and a control group of typically developing (TD) boys while they interacted with familiar and unfamiliar people.

Previous research has suggested that interlocutor differences have both a quantitative and qualitative impact on TD children’s verbal interaction. Dr Al-Dakroury hypothesized that the difference would be more pronounced among children with ADHD; however, his research revealed that among this cohort, there was no statistically significant variation between the TD group and the ADHD group in terms of the difference between Familiar Interlocutor (FI) and Unfamiliar Interlocutor (UI) sessions. On the other hand, he did note that the children with ADHD were less loquacious than their TD peers across all the sessions, in addition to which, “it was observed that during the… sessions with the children with ADHD, … mothers were sitting quietly watching the children with ADHD playing, without trying again to communicate after a communication failure.” He suggested that they “may have expected less out of them at the verbal level.”

Whether the communication failure is a result of impulsive reaction on the parent or child’s part, a manifestation of weak social skills, or indeed a result of a speech/language deficit, it is clear that further research is needed, as well as continued parent training and support.

The Possible Impact of Interlocutor Familiarity on Verbal Interaction in Children with ADHD