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Relationships Between Child-Reported Activity Level and Task Orientation and Parental Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptom Ratings

Bell, Lindsay MEd*†; Kellison, Ida MS*‡; Garvan, Cynthia W. PhD; Bussing, Regina MD, MSHS*‡§∥

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: April 2010 - Volume 31 - Issue 3 - p 233-237
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e3181d5a328
Brief Report

Objective: This study examines whether elementary school-aged children can report behaviors relevant to assessing symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Methods: Interviews were conducted with 120 children aged 6 to 12 years and their parents across 3 waves as part of a longitudinal cohort study of ADHD detection and service use. Child self-reports obtained through the Dimensions of Temperament Scale-Revised-Child (DOTS-R-C) were correlated with parent-reported ADHD symptoms, which were assessed through DSM-IV-based instrument ratings obtained concurrently and 5 years later.

Results: The Dimensions of Temperament Scale-Revised-Child subscales Activity Level and Task Orientation demonstrate adequate internal consistency after eliminating items requiring reverse scoring. Children's self-reports of Task Orientation Problems correlate with their parents' concurrent reports of inattention, r(117) = .23, p < .05, and with parents' Wave 3 reports of inattention, r(118) = .25, p < .01 as well as hyperactivity, r(118) = .25, p < .01. Children's self-reports of Activity Level correlate with their parents' concurrent reports of hyperactivity, r(117) = .21, p < .05, as well as Wave 3 reports of hyperactivity/impulsivity, r(118) = .37, p < .001 and inattention, r(118) = .23, p < .05.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that children may be capable of producing meaningful self-reports of Activity Level and Task Orientation. We propose that the development of child-friendly self-report instruments targeting ADHD symptoms is merited to facilitate the collection of child input during ADHD assessments.

From the Departments of *Psychiatry; †Educational Psychology; ‡Clinical and Health Psychology; §Epidemiology and Health Policy Research; ∥Pediatrics, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

Received April 9, 2009; accepted January 11, 2010.

This research was supported by Grant RO1 MH57399 from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Address for reprints: Lindsay Bell, MEd, 2000 S.W. 16th Street, Apt. 24, Gainesville, FL 32608; e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.