Differentiating ADHD from oral language difficulties in children: Role of movements and effects of stimulant medication

Carroll W. Hughes, Joyce Pickering, Kristi Baker, Gina Bolanos, Cheryl Silver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: The current study was designed to test if an objective measure of both attention and movement would differentiate children with Oral Language Disorders (OLD) from those with comorbid Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and if stimulant medication improved performance when both disorders were present. Methods: The sample consisted of thirty-three children with an identified oral language disorder (of which 22 had comorbid ADHD) ages 6 to 13 who were enrolled in a yearlong intensive learning intervention program. Those on a stimulant medication were tested at baseline and again a year later on and off medication. Results: Objective measures that included an infrared motion analysis system which tracked and recorded subtle movements discriminated children with OLD from those with a comorbid ADHD disorder whereas classic attention measures did not. There were better attention scores and fewer movements in children while on-medication. Conclusions: Use of an objective measurement that includes movement detection improves objective diagnostic differential for OLD and ADHD and provides quantifiable changes in performance related to medication for both OLD and ADHD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number370
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 31 2014


  • ADHD
  • Cognitive processing
  • Continuous performance testing
  • Hyperactivity/Impulsivity
  • Inattention
  • Language
  • Movement detection
  • Oral language disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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