ADHD as an Obstacle to Friendship
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects approximately 8 percent of school-age children in America. Social skills for children with ADHD are often poor and this can hamper a child’s ability to make friends and socialize with peers. There are several reasons why children with ADHD struggle with forming solid peer relationships.
The trait of impulsiveness that is inherent with ADHD can cause children to act in ways that their classmates disapprove of. Behaviors such as bossiness, and invading physical and social boundaries are often seen with these children and can be offensive to other young people. When children with ADHD are unable to remain calm and act aggressively, this is related to impulsivity and is a major factor in the rejection of ADHD children by their neurotypical peers.
Difficulties in staying attentive and on task during social activities such as games or sports can also prevent children with ADHD from blending in with groups. Additionally, because ADHD in children increases the likelihood of social immaturity, typical peers may shun those whom they perceive as "babyish."
Hyperactivity is another trait that can impact social interaction. Children with hyperactivity might present as restless or agitated, and they may be unable to sit still for any period of time. They also may constantly touch everything as well as those around them.
All of these behaviors can be annoying to typical peers and impact the formation of friendships and relationships. Hyperactivity can also present more subtly, in behaviors such as fidgeting, squirming, excessive talking and interrupting others. Obviously, these behaviors can also impact the formation of social relationships.
Many children with ADHD have difficulty understanding the moods of others and social contexts. They do not recognize what the general mood of the group might be, and they may act inappropriate and awkward compared to those around them. Acting in this way often leads to teasing and social rejection.
Unfortunately, negative consequences can arise from an ADHD child being unsuccessful in making friends. When these children can’t properly relate to people around them, they become isolated and this can impact a child’s self-worth and self-esteem. Low self-esteem that stems from loneliness during childhood is a large contributor to problems in adult peer relationships with employers, co-workers and social acquaintances.
Children with ADHD who lack meaningful relationships with peers are also far more likely to fail classes, quit school, and break laws. Conversely, ADHD children who manage to maintain a few good friendships will experience less stress and will be at a lower risk for developing psychological issues in the future. Because peer relationships are vital for a healthy self-image, parents and teachers should be as proactive as possible in encouraging positive social experiences for young children with ADHD.