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The Role of Anxiety in Executive Functions of Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Mathematical Learning Disability Comorbidity

Abstract
Executive dysfunction is a common symptom among patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and/or Mathematical Learning disability (MLD). Current research evidence indicates that anxiety can lead to numerous cognitive deficits. Therefore, through comparing executive functioning in children with ADHD/MLD, who have high and low levels of anxiety, the present study examined the probable role of anxiety in intensifying their problems in executive functions, especially verbal and visuospatial working memory. In a retrospective quasi-experimental study, 8-12 years old children, who were diagnosed with ADHD and MLD comorbidity were selected using purposive convenience sampling (n=85). They completed the multidimensional anxiety scale for children. Then, due to their scores on this scale, 20 children with high anxiety (1.5 standard deviations and more above the mean) and 20 children with low anxiety (1.5 standard deviations and more below the mean) were selected and placed in two groups. Then, executive functions assessment tasks, including the Tower of London test, the Wechsler Memory Scale (WMS), and Benton’s Visual Retention Test, were carried out. Collected data were analyzed using the independent t-test. Findings showed that anxiety can be considered as an intensifying factor in the executive functioning of children with ADHD and MLD. Therefore, executive functions can be improved by balancing the levels of anxiety and preventing further impairment of executive function in these children.
Keywords
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; Executive functions; Mathematical learning disability; Verbal working memory; Visuospatial working memory

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