Attachment representations in children with and without attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Tycho J. Dekkers*, Rianne Hornstra, Barbara J. van den Hoofdakker, Suzanne R.C. de Jong, Jessica V. Schaaf, Guy Bosmans, Saskia van der Oord

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

    OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

    2 Citaten (Scopus)
    48 Downloads (Pure)


    Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children is associated with several adverse family characteristics, such as higher parenting stress, more conflicted parent–child relation-ships, lower parental competence, and higher levels of parental psychopathology. Hence, children with ADHD more often grow up under suboptimal circumstances, which may impact the development of their attachment representations. Here, we investigated whether children with ADHD have more insecure and disorganized attachment representations than their typically developing peers, and which factors could explain this association. We included 104 children between 4 and 11 years old, 74 with ADHD (without Conduct Disorder) and 30 typically developing control children. Children completed a state-of-the-art story stem task to assess their attachment representation, and we measured parents’ expressed emotion (as an index of parent–child relationship quality), parents’ perceived sense of competence, parental education levels, and parent-rated ODD symptoms of the child. We found that, after controlling for multiple comparisons, children with ADHD had less secure and more ambivalent and disorganized attachment representations relative to their typically developing peers. These group differences were independent of comorbid ODD and parental education levels. There were no group differences on avoidant attachment representations. Explorative analyses within the ADHD group showed that attachment representations were not related to parent– child relationship quality, perceived parenting competence, parental education levels, and comorbid ODD symptoms. We conclude that children with ADHD disproportionately often have attachment problems. Although this conclusion is important, treatment implications of this co-occurrence are yet unclear as research on ADHD and attachment is still in its infancy.

    Originele taal-2English
    Aantal pagina's13
    TijdschriftBrain Sciences
    Nummer van het tijdschrift11
    StatusPublished - nov.-2021

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