Observation and comparison of social abilities in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder children
Léger M, Piat N, Jean FA, Galera C, Bouvard MP, Amestoy A.
Encephale. 2020 Mar 6. pii: S0013-7006(20)30020-8.
Commentary* by Dr. Margaret Weiss: Children with ADHD and/or ASD are impacted by social disability.
Objectives: Different studies centered on social relationship issues among ADHD children struggled to provide a unicist explanation between primary social cognition process alteration on the one hand and a mere symptomatic outcome of the disorder triad on the other. Some authors support the idea of a potential “social phenotype” shared at a different intensity by Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The point of the study is to characterize this possible social disability in a French ADHD population and compare it to control subjects and subjects with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Methods: Three groups, composed of 319 subjects aged 6 to 12 years, were recruited in Bordeaux: 88 untreated ADHD subjects, 24 ASD subjects and 207 control subjects. The main measure was the social skill disruption through the rating of the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS). The ADHD-RS-IV, WFIRS-P and CBCL scales were also used.
Results: A significant alteration in social abilities in ADHD children in comparison with controls was noted, with an average raw total SRS score intermediary between the control group and the ASD group (respectively 65.31±20.99, 37.15±16.37 and 95 75±30.83, P<0.05). When the 5 sub-scores of the SRS were taken into account, if the ASD subjects showed the highest average scores, the alteration pattern appeared qualitatively similar between the ADHD and TSA groups, with also an intermediate dispersion for the ADHD group between the control group and the group with ASD. Finally, more severe impairment of social skills in children with ADHD was associated with increased severity of the disorder (on ADHD-RS-IV scale cotation), higher daily functional impact (WFIRS-P scale), and more frequent behavioral issues (according to CBCL).
Conclusions: Our results suggest the presence of social disturbances in ADHD and characterize a symptomatic profile qualitatively similar to that of ASD, but of less intensity. Overall results promote a need for a systematic dimensional assessment of social disability in ADHD.
* Abstracts are selected for their clinical relevance by Dr. Margaret Weiss, Director of Clinical Research, Child Psychiatry, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard University. Her commentary reflects her own opinion. It is not approved or necessarily representative of the CADDRA board.