Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




E. Wayne Wright


For many years adults have been concerned about the hyperactive child, who acts out in a boisterous manner, who is perhaps too physically stimulated and who is often perceived as not meeting adult expectations. It seems important to identify the characteristics of the hyperactive child in an objective and understandable manner so that parents, teachers, medical doctors, and mental health practitioners can determine more adequate prescriptive treatment programs.

The purpose of this study was to adjudge whether children referred for psychoeducational evaluation by pediatricians as hyperactive exhibit behavioral characteristics which, when evaluated by standardized tests, are significantly different from those characteristics exhibited by "normal" children. Any such behavioral differences could then allow for the development of a characteristic profile for the hyperactive child.

An attempt was made to discover whether children referred for hvperactivity would be significantly different from normal children when using the WISC-R subtests to measure the following traits: level of general information (Information subtest); logical and abstract verbal reasoning (Similarities subtest); concentration and number skills (Arithmetic subtest); the amount o verbal information that the child possesses (Vocabulary subtest); practical knowledge and social judgment (Comprehension subtest); immediate auditory recall and attention span (Digit Span subtest); ability to isolate essential from run-essential details (Picture Completion subtest); adequate judgment in interpreting social situations (Picture Arrangement subtest); visual-motor coordination (Block Design subtest); visual-motor organization (Object Assembly subtest); and any unique or consistent pattern of characteristics based on all of the WISC-R subtests, with the exception of Object Assembly as compared to the WJSC-R Object Assembly subtest measuring attentional behavior.

Attempt was also made to discover whether children referred for hyperactivity would be significantly different from normal children when using the PIAT subtests of math and reading recognition to measure skill acquisition in math and reading.

A functional analysis of 40 children was conducted, with 20 children between the ages of 6 to 12 years in a control group, referred by pediatricians as "normal," and 20 children between the ages of 6 to 12 years in an experimental group, referred by pediatricians as "hyperactive."

The results were statistically analyzed using the Kruskal-Wallis one-way analysis of variance by ranks. The results showed no significant differences between the control and experimental groups. Thus the attempt of the present study to identify characteristics of the hyperactive child through use of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised and the Peabody Individual Achievement Test indicated that control and experimental groups appeared to be from the same population.

The following conclusions were drawn from the results of this study: (1) Children referred for hyperactivity could not be identified through the use of the WISC-Rand PIA T math and reading subtests as differing from the control or "normal" population, (2) It was, therefore, not possible to establish a characteristic profile for identifying the hyperactive child by using the WISC-Rand PIA T tests alone, (3) At the present time a behavioral checklist employed by a trained practitioneer may still be the best process for identifying specific behaviors of the hyperactive child, and (4) A prescriptive diagnostic and treatment program based upon observed behaviors may provide one method for identifying and remediating deviant behavior of the overly active child.



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