Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Executive Functions : Potential Vulnerabilities for Bully/Victimization Behaviors




Kulesza, Krista

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Children diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder can present with numerous difficulties in several areas of life, and particularly within the social realm. These interpersonal problems are linked to deficits in executive functions, which are the most prominent neuropsychological defects found in children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Previous literature highlights the specific components of executive functions often problematic in children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder including inhibition, set-shifting, working memory, planning, verbal fluency, and emotional regulation. Further, problems in executive functions appear to exacerbate the unsatisfactory interpersonal relationships these children experience. Additionally, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is more prevalent among children identified as bullies and victims, and literature indicates that certain interpersonal problems children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder experience, also increase the risk for involvement in bully/victimization behaviors. This involvement in bully/victimization behaviors among children with Attention- Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder also appears to be related to deficits in executive functions. A group of children diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder were assessed with performance-based executive functioning measures and self-reported questionnaires on bully/victimization behaviors. Parents completed a measure of emotional regulation, and the child's teacher completed an informant-rating scale on executive functions and equivalent measures on bully/victimization behaviors. Analyses of the data demonstrated that several of the teacher-reported executive function measures were related to, and predictive of, the teacher-reported bully/victimization behaviors. The performancebased executive function measures routinely demonstrated non-significant correlational and predictive findings with the bully/victimization measures. Additionally, the self-reported bullying measures had no significant relationships with any of the executive functioning measures. These results were consistent with literature questioning the validity of these types of measures. The results did show that executive functions, particularly those related to social skills, and emotional regulation, and the symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, predict involvement with bully/victimization behaviors. Additional research is needed on the complex relationship among Attention- Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, executive functions, and bully/victimization behaviors. Specifically, potential studies should focus on utilizing a broader sample of participants, informants, and measures of executive functions and bully/victimization. Future research investigating the relationship among Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, executive dysfunction, and bully/victimization should focus on advancing beneficial interventions to comprehensively address these conditions in order to improve the child.s overall quality of life.

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