New research suggests the average five-year old can’t be diagnosed with ADHD or autism, which could help explain why they have trouble learning and interacting with others.
According to the study, published in the journal Developmental Psychology, researchers took nearly 2,500 children between the ages of 4 and 17 who had been diagnosed with a range of conditions, including autism, ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and learning difficulties.
The researchers found that children who were diagnosed with autism were more likely to have low scores on several measures, such as academic achievement, self-esteem, social skills, and social interaction.
These children were also more likely than those with ADHD to have difficulty understanding and expressing emotions, such that they were more often struggling to understand what other people are feeling and expressing their emotions in a positive way.
The authors also found that preschool children diagnosed with learning difficulties were more than twice as likely to score lower than those who scored average.
The findings suggest that low scores may be associated with learning and social difficulties, which in turn may lead to a child with ADHD, autism or other learning disabilities developing a broader range of learning problems.
However, the authors note that many other researchers have found similar results.
They say that it’s possible that these findings are due to different factors, including genetics and environment, but are also important because children with learning problems may not be able to participate in regular school activities.
“The idea is that low IQ is the primary predictor of learning difficulties, but there are a lot of other things that are associated with low IQ that may affect academic performance,” said co-author Dr. Lisa Cone, a clinical psychologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
“These children are not getting the resources they need to learn, so they may be less able to engage in learning and engage in social interactions, and we don’t know whether this is a specific result that we would like to see in the future.”
The researchers say they believe these findings highlight the importance of engaging with other kids in social and positive ways, including interacting with children with disabilities and their families.
“We know that a child’s cognitive abilities are linked to their ability to learn,” said Dr. Cone.
“So what we need to do is find ways to make learning more engaging and rewarding.”
Parents may also want to consider whether they want to take their children on a fun-filled day with a child who is diagnosed with an autism or learning disability.
According the study authors, a child may benefit from learning about autism and its causes and potential treatments.
Parents may want to make sure their children are receiving the appropriate services and support, and are receiving special attention and assistance with learning disabilities.
Parents should also be aware that if their child has learning problems, they may not feel like they can be a good role model for their children.
“When you’re talking to your child about autism or their disabilities, you may not want to have a parent who’s going to look at them with that level of concern, because it might lead to this negative stereotype that it has to be this hard-to-reach-for kid,” said Cone of the University’s Children’s Hospital.
“So you need to talk to your pediatrician or the school to see if there are resources that you can get your child or your family involved in, or what you can do to support them to have that kind of support.”