Hyperactive children more likely to be lonely in adulthood: study
The Sector > Research > Hyperactivity and impulsivity in the early years linked with social isolation as adults

Hyperactivity and impulsivity in the early years linked with social isolation as adults

by Freya Lucas

April 04, 2023
A child is shown using a hockey stick on a blue surface

Children who show high levels of hyperactivity and impulsivity in childhood have an increased risk of experiencing social isolation when they are adults, new research from King’s College London has shown. 


Using data from the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, the researchers looked at the association between symptoms of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and social isolation throughout childhood, with the findings published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) Open.


Children who showed increased ADHD symptoms had a greater risk of becoming isolated later in childhood, researchers found, specifically noting that children who were more hyperactive were at increased risk of experiencing social isolation as they got older, whereas those children who were simply inattentive were less likely to experience social isolation. 


“Negative interactions with their peers may lead children with ADHD to become withdrawn, rejected, lonely and isolated,” explained Lead author Katherine Thompson.


“Our findings suggest that social isolation should be carefully assessed in children with ADHD and that they could benefit from interventions aimed at increasing social participation and easing social challenges.”


To change this trajectory, Ms Thompson said a focus on combating negative biases around neurodiversity in schools and local communities could help reduce experiences of social isolation for these children.


Children with ADHD, she continued, particularly those in school based settings, would likely benefit from enhanced peer social support, and measures to include them. 


To view the research in full, please see here

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