Social and Bio-genetic Influences
of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
on Child Intelligence
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has undergone intense research
in the past decade. Much of this is rooted in the fact that approximately 5% of children
are affected with the disorder. Children with ADHD are identified as having increased
behavioral difficulties because of excessive motor activities, poor self regulation and
inattentiveness. It has been found that as many as 30% of children inflicted with ADHD
have learning disabilities with academic underachievement becoming a failure or bother in
the school system. Since these children do not meet the expectations of society and their
learning environment they are usually met with anger, punishment, and rejection. In turn
these children develop a low-self esteem and low levels of motivation.
The reason for ADHD is still a mystery to researchers. Within the field there are
many things that point to biological (genetic) and social causes. The idea seeks to explore
current research through investigating the social and bio-genetic influence of ADHD on
child intelligence. Testing and treatments of those with ADHD will also be discussed.

Even though ADHD occurs in people of every intelligence, a majority of children
affected experience academic problems. These children may have specific learning
disabilities, such as dyslexia, or may have multiple learning problems. In a study
comparing ADHD children with those unaffected, those with the disorder performed
significantly worse than the others. Learning disabilities can be said to arise from
attentional difficulties in the classroom setting. Many of these difficulties occur in tasks
where listening and time is a factor. Reading disabilities have also been found as a result
of ADHD. The attention span of someone with ADHD is usually shot in a controlled
setting they can hardly function, without distractions wich makes them sociably

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Even though there is a higher prevalence of boys and those with low intelligence
diagnosed, others with ADHD are impaired as well. Results have found that girls with this
disorder face greater intellectual impairment, especially with picture vocabulary tasks, than
boys or control girls. There is also significant findings that the level of intelligence affects
ADHD children in different ways. More specifically those with both ADHD and normal
to high intelligence are more prone to accidents, and have a smaller number of steady
friends. Children who were identified with low intelligence and ADHD were found to
have more behavioral and emotional problems in their adolescence. Long term studies
have found that the outcome of these children was continued academic problems and
school failures. However there is suggestion ADHD children show greater artistic ability
when writing or drawing slowly and precisely.

Testing the intelligence of ADHD involves a number of measures.
Psychoeducational testing is used to assess intellectual ability and to search for learning
disabilities. A new intelligence test has been created by Naglieri called the Cognitive
Assessment System to help diagnose and measure ADHD intelligence. This test is based
on the premise that traditional tests don’t measure processes such as planning and
attention, which is essential in testing and detecting ADHD students. There is inconsistent
data for the use of computerized tests of attention and vigilance for this purpose.

In many cases the effects of ADHD on children’s intelligence is influenced by
social factors. For instance studies show that symptoms become worse in situations which
are unstructured, minimally supervised, boring, or require sustained attention or mental
effort. There is an opposite deflection in IQ scores when related with increased social
disability scores. The same study looked at teacher perceptions, which showed that the
less likable and more aggressive the child was, the lower the performance. In researching
verbal deficits in ADHD children scientists found many early intellectual problems linked
with disruptive behavior such as hyperactivity and aggression.
Data also shows that parental conflict, diminished family cohesion, and number of
parents psychiatrically ill during the child’s lifetime adversely affected intelligence scores
wich shows it has been mainly passed through genetics because these people pass
dissability’s through geans. The researchers conclude that a significant relation links IQ
and social functioning. A lot of other scientists have come up with similar tests and gotten
the same results. Six factors were listed from the family environment which correlated
with ADHD children’s cognitive deficits. These include severe marital discord, low social
class, large family size, paternal criminal record, maternal mental disorder and foster home
placement. This study asserts that children with ADHD have a more “adaptable” IQ’s and
are more adversely affected. Some scientist’s argue that family size is of no significance.
When investigating parental style and family influence on ADHD IQ levels, Scientist’s
report that little evidence exists.

Poor school achievement for ADHD children is also associated with the need for
immediate reinforcement. These children have been shown to perform as well as others in
situations where consistent, immediate and positive reinforcement is in place. Rule
governed behavior is additionally difficult for these students. Even when they understand
the rules, they do not follow through with correct behavior therefore the right social
environment is necessary.
Diffrent studies have found that lower intelligence in ADHD children is not socially
mediated, but in fact rooted in genetics and human biology. In testing the families of these
children, it has been shown that siblings show increased learning disabilities and higher
rates of ADHD. Family patterns show that approximately 20 to 30 percent of children
with ADHD have a parent or sibling with similar problems. There is the suggestion that
these children inherit a type of nervous system which makes them prone to learning
disabilities. Data from family risk, adoption, and twin research are supportive of this
aspect. However recent research has indicated that ADHD and learning disabilities are
transmitted independently in families and that their occurrence is due to non-random
mating. In looking at probands of parents, scientist’s conclude ADHD and learning
disabilities are independent, and rather due to random mating, therefore not etiologically

Other researchers claim the intellectual deficit lies in physiological anomalies.
More specifically, imbalance in the neurotransmitter systems of the brain, dysfunction in
the reticular activating system, or a lag in brain development. In determining if the
neurocogonitive characteristic in individuals with resistance to thyroid hormone (RTH) are
similar to those with ADHD, researchers have found that children with RTH have like
deficient achievement levels as those with ADHD. There is also evidence that epinephrine
(EPI) levels are lower in ADHD children. Urinary EPI levels are inversely related to
fidgeting and aggression for second grade ADHD students. During intelligence testing,
results have shown that these EPI levels during a cognitive challenge is at least 40 percent
lower than controls. In a study which had subjects enhance beta activity in activity during
cognitive testing, those with ADHD improved in intelligence testing. Improvements were
assumed to be a result of attention enhancement affected by biofeedback
Investigating effectiveness of treatments of ADHD learning disabilities allows
additional information on the social and bio-genetic causes of academic underacheivement
related with this disorder. It has been stated that both instruction and contingency
management is necessary to remedy academic deficits. Some techniques include class
rules, attention to positive behavior, as well as time out and response cost programs.
Suggested to compliment and further increase probability of improvement is the alliance of
parents, patient and school with the consideration of individual needs for the student and
subsequently accommodating the environment to these needs. Scales such as the
Academic Performance Rating Scale or daily report cards are useful in monitoring
Cognitive behavioral interventions have also been shown to have a positive effect
in academic achievement. Interventions such as self instructional training, problem solving
training, attribution retraining and stress reduction procedure work as well. For some but
not all these methods of interventions have not been widely implemented in treatment of
ADHD children. Many children are segregated into learning disability classes separate
from other students. It is essential tutoring and resources be made for the child however,
many are able to learn at the same level with the other children. It has been found that
many ADHD children are inappropriately placed in special education programs for the
learning disabled. This is mainly because of social improvement, so extremes are not
necessary. A percentage of ADHD students do exhibit normal intelligence but are socially
inept. Therefore careful testing and diagnoses is imperative for the improvement of these
youths. And by failing to provide interventions for their behavior problems, they may
become restricted in their opportunities for academic success.

It is quite often found that the majority of ADHD children improve with
psychopharmaceuticals, specifically stimulants such as Ritalin, Aderal, Dexedrine or
others. Results reveal that medication related improvements include increased work
output improved accuracy and efficiency and better learning benefits. Learning and
achievements in math, reading, and fine motor skills improve as well. There is a 70 to 90
percent response rate to stimulants. These results are quite dramatic in short term, but
long term efficacy is still questioned. There is a lot of agreement in literature that a
combination of treatment types is best to improve academic deficits. The cornerstones of
treatment are support, education of parents, appropriate school placement, and
psychopharmacology (medications).
In reviewing the current literature on how intelligence is affected by ADHD, it is
easy to see that it is a subject yet to be firmly defined. Intelligence tests have been
erroneously analysed in diagnosing and categorizing ADHD children and new tests must
be developed to find the level and intensity to their disorder. The current increase in
ADHD children seems somewhat suspicious. The possibilitys are endless for the analisys
the problem enstated by most is the parents probably never got treated for ADHD and it
keeps getting passed through genetics, and people are finding out more about it and
finding they show the effects. The stimulant Ritalin is being overly diagnosed as a quick
fix when they need to use programs too for a treatment. There must be much more
behavioral and parental/school attention unity in order for this epidemic of hyper children
to be stoped and treated. Intelligence and ADHD have been linked in twin and adoption
studies to family so people are not sure but, these studies could still be testing completely
different things. Other studies also have found links in hyperactivity and affect to genetic
dispositions in the central nervous system. In testing it is hard to determine if it is genetic
or environmental due to the fact that many with ADHD can also be without learning
disorders. Therefore, if we are to label this as a disease a bio-social scientific approach is
necessary in diagnosis, treatment and intelligence assessment.