Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Psychomotor stimulants are the most commonly prescribed medications for the treatment of ADHD in children and adults. A vast literature has evolved concerning the efficacy and potential side effects of these drugs. Although stimulants are generally regarded as safe and effective, there is concern that potential problems may have been overlooked. Specifically, there is some literature indicating that, at least in some cases, stimulant medications may produce significant disruptions in social behavior. To investigate these effects, a number of different measurements were employed with preschool children, including direct observations during times of play, a social reinforcer assessment and a number rating scale/interview measures. The results indicate that three of the six participants displayed heightened levels of anxiety or stereotyped behaviors in specific settings while taking their prescribed dose of stimulant medication. The social reinforcer assessment revealed that the value of social reinforcers (i.e., playing with others) decreased for two of the participants while on their prescribed dose of medication. A corresponding increase in the value of nonsocial reinforcers (i.e., playing alone or quiet time) was observed for both of these participants as well. Another participant displayed the opposite effects in the reinforcer assessment while taking stimulant medication. The value of social reinforcers appeared to increase for this participant while taking the prescribed dose of stimulant medication. The findings from the rating scales were inconclusive, and did not correspond well with the direct observations. The relevance of these findings from the direct and indirect measures as well as the reinforcer assessment will be discussed.
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LaRue, Robert, Jr. H., "The effects of stimulant medication on the social behavior of children with ADHD during times of play" (2002). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 2403.