Neglect and ADHD

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Sunniva Gram Andersen
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
Child maltreatment is a major public health issue. The nature and severity of the different types of maltreatment, including neglect or deprivation, can vary from less severe cases to extreme cases which may have longstanding effects for the individual (World Health Organization & International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, 2006). Despite neglect being one of the most prevalent forms of child maltreatment, the developmental consequences of neglect seem to be largely overlooked or underreported in scientific research, as neglect is understudied compared to other forms of maltreatment (Stoltenborgh, Bakermans-Kranenburg & van IJzendoorn, 2013).            Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most prevalent disorders in children. Its symptoms are related to deficits of the child’s self-regulating mechanisms, including inattention, overactivity and impulsivity (Helsedirektoratet, 2015). Research on the possible consequences of neglect has shown an association with ADHD-symptoms (McLaughlin, Sheridan & Nelson, 2017, Maguire et al., 2015). These findings may contribute to the understanding of the possible consequences of neglect, but also to the ongoing debate relating to the etiology of ADHD. Despite a biological understanding of the disorder being dominant, psychosocial factors such as neglect has been assumed to contribute to the development of the disorder (Jørgensen, 2014; Thapar, Cooper, Eyre & Langley, 2013).This masters’ thesis aims to investigate the assumed association between childhood neglect and ADHD symptoms in children.                 To investigate the research question, a systematic literature review was conducted in order to provide an empirical overview of the current research. The synthesis of the literature suggested that there is indeed an association between the two factors.As quantitative methods simply demonstrate a connection without necessarily implying an explanation (Den nasjonale forskningsetiske komité for medisin og helsefag, 2010), this second part of the masters’ thesis aims to provide additional perspectives to provide possible explanations for the association between neglect and ADHD. This was done by providing the neurological and developmental perspectives of Bruce D. Perry and Alan N. Schore, who both contribute to the understanding of how neglect can alter brain development and contribute to ADHD-symptoms in children.The results of the systematic literature review and the theoretical perspectives were then used in a theoretical and methodological discussion to provide insights into the possible explanation behind the association and its relevance for practice, and also to discuss the methodological choices and implications.                 Based on the processing of the results from the systematic literature review and the theoretical themes and discussions carried out in the course of this masters’ thesis, it is suggested that neglected children could be at risk for developing ADHD symptoms. This is because neglect is assumed to lead to a lack of positive experiences with the caregiver, which can lead to insecure attachments, and that the lack of experiences might alter brain development. In addition, the possible traumatic stress experienced by the child might be damaging to the child’s stress system. It is assumed, that these unwanted developments in sum can contribute to symptoms similar to those of ADHD.
LanguageNorwegian
Publication date31 May 2018
Number of pages55
ID: 280155394