Young adult outcome of hyperactive children: adaptive functioning in major life activities

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2006 Feb;45(2):192-202. doi: 10.1097/01.chi.0000189134.97436.e2.


Objective: The authors report the adaptive functioning of hyperactive and control children in southeastern Wisconsin (Milwaukee) followed to young adulthood.

Method: Interviews with participants concerning major life activities were collected between 1992 and 1996 and used along with employer ratings and high school records at the young adult follow-up (mean = 20 years, range 19-25) for this large sample of hyperactive (H; n = 149) and community control (CC; n = 72) children initially seen in 1978-1980 and studied for at least 13 years. Age, duration of follow-up, and IQ were statistically controlled as needed.

Results: The H group had significantly lower educational performance and attainment, with 32% failing to complete high school. H group members had been fired from more jobs and manifested greater employer-rated attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder symptoms and lower job performance than the CC group. Socially, the H group had fewer close friends, more trouble keeping friends, and more social problems as rated by parents. Far more H than CC group members had become parents (38% versus 4%) and had been treated for sexually transmitted disease (16% versus 4%). Severity of lifetime conduct disorder was predictive of several of the most salient outcomes (failure to graduate, earlier sexual intercourse, early parenthood) whereas attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder at work were predictive of job performance and risk of being fired.

Conclusions: These findings corroborate prior research and go further in identifying sexual activity and early parenthood as additional problematic domains of adaptive functioning at adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / rehabilitation*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Educational Status
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Psychomotor Agitation / rehabilitation*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Social Adjustment*
  • United States