Psychological distress in children with developmental coordination disorder and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
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This study explored whether or not a population-based sample of children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD), with and without comorbid attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), experienced higher levels of psychological distress than their peers. A two-stage procedure was used to identify 244 children: 68 with DCD only, 54 with ADHD only, 31 with comorbid DCD and ADHD, and 91 randomly selected typically developing (TD) children. Symptoms of depression and anxiety were measured by child and parent report. Child sex and caregiver ethnicity differed across groups, with a higher ratio of boys to girls in the ADHD only group and a slightly higher proportion of non-Caucasian caregivers in the TD group. After controlling for age, sex, and caregiver ethnicity, there was significant variation across groups in both anxiety (by parent report, F(3,235)=8.9, p<0.001; by child report, F(3,236)=5.6, p=0.001) and depression (parent report, F(3,236)=23.7, p<0.001; child report, F(3,238)=9.9, p<0.001). In general, children in all three disorder groups had significantly higher levels of symptoms than TD children, but most pairwise differences among those three groups were not significant. The one exception was the higher level of depressive symptoms noted by parent report in the ADHD/DCD group. In conclusion, children identified on the basis of motor coordination problems through a population-based screen showed significantly more symptoms of depression and anxiety than typically developing children. Children who have both DCD and ADHD are particularly at heightened risk of psychological distress.