Graduate Student Completion Seminar

Benita Green
MSPS PhD Candidate

Pragmatic language and theory of mind in children with symptoms of ADHD

Children with symptoms of ADHD tend to experience problems with pragmatic language: they interrupt, rapidly switch topics and have difficulty adapting their message for the listener. This research examines whether such problems and any co-occurring problems in theory of mind are related to the heterogeneity in executive function associated with ADHD. In a community sample of 8-10 year olds, cluster analysis revealed three distinct executive function profiles. One group showed poor sustained attention and extremely variable response time. They had elevated ADHD symptoms and a consistent pattern of poorer pragmatic language and theory of mind than the other two groups, one with poor response inhibition and one with no particular executive weaknesses. Sustained attention may contribute to the perspective taking and self-monitoring required for effective pragmatic communication.

Benita Green is a PhD candidate in the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences. She trained as a psychologist after working in education previously. Benita has a long-standing interest in child development, especially the dynamic interplay between cognitive, social and emotional development. She currently works as a psychologist in private practice while completing the final stages of her PhD research.