Date of Award:

2001

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

Gretchen A. Gimpel

Abstract

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is among the most common reasons for

referral to children's mental health clinics, with an estimated prevalence of 3% to 5% in the

general population of school-age children. Children who exhibit the requisite behaviors may

obtain a diagnosis of ADHD at any age; however, symptom onset must occur before age 7 and

persist for at least 6 months. Despite these temporal requirements for diagnosis, little empirical

information about the manifestation and stability of ADHD symptoms in preschool children

exists. This study provides information about the initial presence and stability over one academic

year of ADHD behaviors in a sample of 290 preschool children rated by mothers and/or teachers.

Data suggest higher levels of these behaviors at home versus school, with behaviors remaining

stable over the course of the academic year at school, and diminishing over this time period at

home. Family environment factors (e.g., socioeconomic status, family stress) were not found to

have strong predictive relationships with levels of ADHD behaviors in this sample of

preschoolers including little support for a directional relationship between dysfunctional

parenting behaviors and child ADHD symptoms. Conclusions and clinical implications of these

finding, are provided and may assist psychologists in their efforts to diagnose and treat this

disorder in young children.

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