ADHD and Speech

Since I list ADHD in my top ten reasons to celebrate the book, ‘The Late Talker‘, let’s concentrate on ADHD.

Did you know in some samples those with a diagnosis of ADHD have “undiagnosed” speech and language disorders as high as 40% and 50% of the time?

As a mom, I have personal experience ( twice ) with late talkers. One of my late talker boys also has ADHD. Due to a traumatic birth, my oldest son Dakota was in therapy overseen by a neurologist from three weeks old. Dakota also was a late talker, (which we all considered the least of his problems in comparison to his eating and breathing problems) Dakota has been diagnosed by neurologists and developmental pediatricians as having either ADHD, ADD, or CAPD (central auditory processing disorder) numerous times as well (and ADHD “suspected” and pointed out to me by each of his teachers from preschool to second grade… as well as most baby sitters, strangers in the supermarket, and one neurologist who left the exam room for a second to get a pen and came back to find Dakota knocked his entire wall shelf down that I was trying to put back up!)

Even though Dakota has been diagnosed with ADD, due to educational and therapeutic strategies, and without any medication, Dakota is a brilliant gifted third grade student who receives straight A’s academically. Dakota is mainstreamed, and classified for his ADHD, and he receives pull out speech therapy two times a week through the school district. Dakota, like Tanner, has benefited from the right formula of Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils. (You can read about that here) Dakota is a true success story and a testament to early intervention. Quite a few doctors have called Dakota the “miracle child” at this point. Perhaps it was part miracle, part therapy, part early intervention, and part brain stimulation. Either way, with or without ADD, Dakota is “normal” now, actually better than normal, and for that we couldn’t be happier, no matter how it happened.

– Lisa Geng, President
Cherab Foundation

Related Excerpts:

Comorbidity in ADHD and Associated Outcomes
by Dennis P. Cantwell, M.D.

“…Communication disorders describe developmental speech and/or language disorders. These children have elevated rates of ADHD. It is also clear that children referred for psychiatric problems and given a diagnosis of ADHD have undiagnosed speech and language disorders in a number of cases, as high as 40% and 50% in some samples. The nature of this relationship is not well understood. It may be that the speech and language disorders lead to attentional problems in some particular way or that they are both due to some common underlying factor, such as some type of central nervous system (CNS)

The long-term outcome of children with speech and language disorders is fairly good for the disorders themselves. However, these children are highly likely to develop learning disorders as a residual outcome of their speech and language disorders. Thus, the presence of
communication disorders is likely to lead in ADHD children, as it does in non-ADHD children, to the development of academic performance problems due to specific learning disabilities in the language- related areas. This probability must be taken into account in the
design of treatment plans to alter long-term negative outcome…”

Impulsivity, Inattention and Language
Sam Goldstein, Ph.D.

“Toddlers and preschoolers at risk to receive a diagnosis of ADHD are often impulsive and inattentive. These children also demonstrate a higher incidence of problems with language development. In some studies as many as 50% to 70% of young children with hyperactive and impulsive behavior were experiencing problems in understanding and expressing ideas through language. These children also demonstrated a high rate of learning disability when they entered school. It is unclear whether their temperament contributes to delayed language or delayed language contributes to their difficulty temperamentally.

Before they learn to speak and begin to attach verbal labels to things, infants must touch, feel and taste as a means of gaining information about the world. Once they learn to use language effectively, words replace touch. Impulsive toddlers, however, often have difficulty making this transition. Typically they continue to need to touch and feel things, possibly as a means of gaining sensory input from the world. This problem may lead to difficulty
understanding personal space in older children with ADHD.

In long-term studies, Dr. Walter Mischel and colleagues found a most interesting relationship between a young child’s ability to use language skills while waiting for rewards and later success as a teenager or young adult….

ADHD: Speech and Language
American Speech Hearing Association

“Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity have their effects on speech and language…some children with ADHD also have learning disabilities that affect their speech and language. Evaluation of each child’s individual speech and language pattern is critical to developing an appropriate treatment plan…”

ADHD And Communication Skills
Eileen Bailey Director of ADDHelpline

“There are a number of ADD symptoms that can become barriers to effective communication (see a list here) …The ADD brain, always active, yet lacking in certain chemicals can not always retrieve the accurate data it needs. The right descriptive word may be filed somewhere in their brain, but not readily accessible. We have all “known” something that we can’t remember and say that it is “on the tip of our tongue.” Somewhere in our brain we have the knowledge, but at the moment we do not have the ability to locate it.

So it is with an ADD brain. With thoughts constantly moving quickly around and distractions taking attention away, it can be hard to locate the piece of information within the vast storage of the brain. Therefore, the correct words or phrases do not come. The ADD person becomes frustrated because the know what they want to convey, they can feel what they want to convey, and sometimes they think they have conveyed that very thought. But somewhere, it has been misconstrued, or not understood. Those that do not understand ADD may feel lost in the conversation, get annoyed or just look at you with amusement or non-comprehension.

Whatever happens, the communication can break down and cause frustration on both ends…”