self esteem problems and depression. A February 2009 review by Dr A. Pardos in the Spanish Journal "Revista de Neurologia" on the social difficulties of people with ADHD reported that "Sixty to seventy per cent of children with Inattentive ADHD are socially rejected and stigmatized because of their provocative, aggressive or disruptive behavior. These patients have difficulty in monitoring and interpreting social cues, resolving interpersonal conflicts and in creating practical solutions."
The differing subtypes are not entirely homogeneous with regards to their social problems. People with Combined type ADHD (ADHD-C) or Hyperactive/Impulsive ADHD (ADHD-HI) may be more likely to behave impulsively or even aggressively towards their peers and they may be inappropriate in their social reactions and interactions. People with Inattentive ADHD may be less argumentative, impulsive or assertive but they will be equally sensitive to social feedback while appearing to others as self absorbed and uninterested in pursuing friendships.
All the ADHD subtypes may miss social cues, may have little awareness of their effect on others and may be emotionally immature. People with ADD and ADHD tend to socialize better with people who are much younger of much older as the social structure of these social interactions are better defined.
Teacher and parental coaching can be helpful for improving social skills. A study in the August, 2010 Journal of '"Abnormal Child Psychology" by Dr. AY Mikami demonstrated that parental coaching can be helpful for improving social skills in children with ADHD. In this study parents received instruction in how to arrange social settings in which their children were likely to succeed socially. The parents received eight, 90-minute sessions of instructions while the children received not treatment. The researchers found that children with parents who received training were more likely to be perceived by teachers to have better social skills though the teachers were unaware of which parents had received treatment.
Other studies have shown long term social skill improvements in people with ADHD when:
- People with Combined type (ADHD-C) and Hyperactive Impulsive ADHD (ADHD-HI) receive training in cooperation, self control, and empathy.
- People with ADHD-PI receive training in assertiveness, appearing approachable, and simple communication.
- All ADHD subtypes benefit from training in improving communication, empathy, and social interactions
- Role playing is used as a training tool. Role playing exercises break down complex social situations into smaller components and individual social skills can then be trained one at a time.
- Modeling tools are used for training. Modeling tools involve the use of a model to perform the desired social actions and behaviors while the individual with ADHD carefully observes the actions of the model.
- Social skills' training is a family affair and parents, siblings, and other family members are participate in the training.
- The social situation is a one on one.
- The social situation is of a limited length.
- The social interaction is with an older or younger person.
Social skills difficulties are common in people with ADHD. It is imperative that the social skills difficulties of people with ADHD be treated as the lack of positive social interactions is frequently cited as a common cause of low self esteem and depression. Individuals with ADHD who are impulsive, argumentative or oppositional are greatly improved by the use of ADHD medication and social skills training has been proven to be an effective tool for improving the social skills of people with ADHD.
Social skills training is available from many child psychiatrist and psychologist and is also sometimes offered by Occupational Therapist. Another therapy that can be tried at home is called Calm Kids and it was devised by a learning specialist. I have not tried this program but my neighbor reports that the Calm Kid program made a world of difference in the social skills of her 8 year old. Her son is more socially appropriate, more focused and less disorganized she reports as a result of the MP3s that come with this program. The Calm Kids link is here: