Toward a new psychometric definition of social disability in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

Ross W. Greene, Joseph Biederman, Stephen V. Faraone, Cheryl A. Ouellette, Courtney Penn, Susan M. Griffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate a new mechanism for identifying social disability in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), employing psychometric methodology used in defining learning disabilities. Method: Two groups of index children were examined: 140 children with ADHD (referred from both psychiatric and pediatric sources) and 120 non-ADHD comparison children. Subjects were defined as socially disabled if they had a value greater than 1.65 on a standardized discrepancy score between observed and expected scores on a measure of social functioning (with expected scores derived as a function of the child's estimated Full Scale IQ). Children identified as socially disabled were compared with non-socially disabled probands on psychopathology, familiality, cognitive functioning, school history, and treatment history. Results: Using this psychometric approach, 22% of the ADHD probands qualified as socially disabled, whereas none of the comparison probands qualified (p ≤ .001). Socially disabled ADHD probands were significantly more impaired than were non-socially disabled ADHD probands in global and specific measures of social functioning and patterns of psychiatric comorbidity. Conclusions: The psychometrically defined construct of social disability may identify children with ADHD who are at very high risk for severe social dysfunction and whose course and prognosis may vary from those of other children with ADHD. This subgroup of children with ADHD may be at heightened risk for poor outcome, and their identification may facilitate the development of clinical interventions aimed at ameliorating their specific difficulties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-578
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • psychiatric comorbidity
  • social disability


Dive into the research topics of 'Toward a new psychometric definition of social disability in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this