Despite the fact that Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is often conceptualized as an extreme trait, there remains controversy about the best way to understand associations between temperament traits and ADHD. The current study examines longitudinal associations between temperament traits and ADHD during early childhood in order to critically examine vulnerability and spectrum models of trait-ADHD associations. Study participants were 109 children between the ages of 3 and 6 and their primary caregivers and teachers/daycare providers, community-recruited for ADHD-related problems. Primary caregivers completed the Kiddie Disruptive Behavior Disorders Schedule semi-structured diagnostic interview at the initial appointment and one year later. At the initial appointment, primary caregivers completed the Child Behavior Questionnaire as a measure of child temperament traits. Results from the initial time point indicated that high neuroticism and high surgency were associated with inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive ADHD symptoms, and low effortful control was associated with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD symptoms. However, none of these traits predicted the one-year course of ADHD symptoms. Results are more consistent with a spectrum (vs. vulnerability) model of trait-psychopathology associations, suggesting that traits may not influence longitudinal course during early childhood.
- Spectrum model
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