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Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) commonly experience significant pragmatic language deficits which put them at risk of developing emotional and social difficulties. This study aimed to examine the pragmatic language exhibited in a peer-to-peer interaction between the children with ADHD and their playmates following a pilot play-based intervention. Participants were children (aged 5–11 years) diagnosed as having ADHD (n = 14) and their self-selected typically-developing playmate. Pragmatic language was measured using the Pragmatic Protocol (PP) and the Structured Multidimensional Assessment Profiles (S-MAPs). Children's structural language was also screened and compared against their pragmatic language skills pre–post play-based intervention. The pragmatic language of children with ADHD improved significantly from pre–post intervention as measured by both the PP and S-MAPs. Both children with and without structural language difficulties improved significantly from pre- to post-intervention using S-MAPs; only children with structural language difficulties improved significantly using PP. The findings support the notion that pragmatic skills may improve following a play-based intervention that is characterized by didactic social interaction. As pragmatic language is a complex construct, it is proposed that clinicians and researchers reconsider the working definition of pragmatic language and the operationalization thereof in assessments.

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Journal Article

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