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Topics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation








Objectives: To identify differences in the diagnosis and treatment of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) between typically developing children and children with spina bifida. Method: Sixty-eight children with spina bifida and 68 demographically matched, typically developing children participated in a larger, longitudinal study. Rates of maternal, paternal, and teacher reports of attention problems, as well as rates of maternal reports of ADHD diagnosis, diagnosing provider, pharmaceutical treatment, mental health treatment, and academic accommodations were obtained at 5 time points over a period of 8 years and were compared across groups. Results: Children with spina bifida were more likely to have an ADHD diagnosis and attention problems. Attention problems and ADHD diagnoses were first reported at earlier time points for children with spina bifida than typically developing children. Among children with ADHD or attention problems, children with spina bifida were more likely to be treated with medication, but they were just as likely to use mental health services and receive resource services at school. Conclusions: Children with spina bifida were diagnosed with ADHD and identified as having attention problems more frequently and at an earlier age. This finding could be due to earlier symptom development, greater parental awareness, or more contact with providers. Among those with ADHD or attention problems, stimulant medication was more likely to be prescribed to children with spina bifida, despite research that suggests it may not be as beneficial for them. Further research on the effectiveness of ADHD pharmacological treatment for children with spina bifida is recommended.


Author Posting. © Thomas Land Publishers, Inc. 2016. This article is posted here for personal use, not for redistribution. The article was published in Topics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation, vol. 22, no. 4, 2016,

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