Date of Award

Fall 12-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Michelle M. Martel

Second Advisor

Paul J. Frick

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Shirtcliff


Children with Disruptive Behavior Disorders (DBD), including Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) have poorer language skills compared to typically developing children; however, language as a potential risk factor for DBD has received little empirical attention or evaluation. Receptive, expressive, and pragmatic language skills in preschoolers with DBD were examined. Participants were 82 preschool-age children and their primary caregivers. Primary caregivers completed a semi-structured interview and symptom and language questionnaires. Preschoolers completed measures of receptive and expressive language. Results indicated that preschoolers with DBD were more impaired on receptive, expressive, and pragmatic language compared to non-DBD children. Pragmatic language appears particularly impaired in children with DBD, and language problems appear most linked with increased hyperactivity-impulsivity (vs. inattention or oppositional-defiance). This work suggests the need for early assessment of language in preschoolers with DBD, as well as the possibly utility of tailored interventions focusing on improving pragmatic language.


The University of New Orleans and its agents retain the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible this dissertation or thesis in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis or dissertation.