Book Excerpt: Social Skills: Learning How to Fit in

People who don’t know much about ADHD and its effects on a young person’s life are often surprised to learn that the condition reaches far beyond a young person’s academic life and into his or her ability to be successful at getting along in social situations, making and sustaining friendships, or having a relationship with a significant other. Those familiar with ADHD know all too well how a young person’s challenges with processing information and maintaining focus can lead to an awkward and painful social life.

Those with ADHD may struggle to carry on a normal conversation, appearing to not be listening one moment, then blurting out a response to something that was said 10 minutes ago. These young people may interrupt, not know how to engage in a discussion, or drift off and miss chunks of a conversation. Young people with ADHD miss social cues and are often viewed as rude or insensitive by others. Many have trouble acting appropriately or getting comfortable in social situations.

Compounding these issues is the problem of impulsivity. Many young people with ADHD engage in risk-taking behaviors: acting before thinking, using drugs, or driving at dangerously high speeds. The young person with ADHD is easily swayed and will be likely to follow the crowd and not consider the consequences, whether they be personal or academic.

As a result of their challenges with social skills, defined as the ability to act appropriately in a given social situation and to communicate effectively, young people with ADHD may develop low self-esteem, have few friends, suffer from loneliness, or hang out with younger children because it’s more comfortable than being around peers.