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ADHD: Improving Social Skills in Elementary School Students

- Many students in elementary school with ADHD have poor social skills due to their impulsivity, or lack of empathy with others. They often do not think about how their actions will impact others, or how others will reach to what they say or do.

- Many ADHD students never learn the subtle social ques that make the difference between someone being accepted, or left out, during elementary school years. Help them before the go to junior high!

Elementary School and ADHD: Improving Social Skills

Provide a safe environment for the child with ADD ADHD. Make sure the child knows you are his friend and you are there to help him. Treat him with respect. Never belittle him in front of his peers. Both he and the other children know that he stands out, and if the teacher belittles the child, then the rest of the children will see that as permission from the teacher to belittle the child as well. Children can be cruel.

Students with attention deficit disorder can experience many difficulties in the social area, especially with peer relationships. They tend to have trouble picking up social cues, they act impulsively, have limited self-awareness of their effect on others, display delayed role-taking ability, and over-personalize other's actions as being criticism, and tend not to recognize positive feedback.

ADD ADHD students tend to play better with younger or older children when their roles are clearly defined.

These attention deficit students tend to repeat self-defeating social behavior patterns and not learn from experience.

Conversationally, they may ramble and say embarrassing things to peers.

Areas and time-periods with less structure and less supervision, such as the playground and class parties, can be a problem. Students with good social awareness and who like to be helpful can be paired with the ADD ADHD child to help. This pairing can take the form of being a "study buddy", doing activities/projects, or playing on the playground.

Cross-age tutoring with older or younger students can also have social benefits. Most successful pairing is done with adequate preparation of the paired student, planning meetings with the pair to set expectations, and with parental permission. Pairing expectations and time-commitments should be fairly limited in scope to increase the opportunity for success and lessen the constraints on the paired students.


More Ideas: ADHD Social Skills in Elementary School

Elementary School students with attention deficit disorder tend to do well in the cooperative group instructional format. Small student groupings of three to five members, in which the students "sink or swim" together to complete assignments/projects, encourage students to share organizational ideas and responsibilities, and gives an ideal setting for processing interpersonal skills on a regular basis.

Small "play groups" of two to four students can help your ADD ADHD student to develop more effective social skills. These groups are most effective if socially competent peers are willingly included in the group. The group should be focused on activities that stress interaction and cooperation.

Your ADD ADHD student would benefit most when the target social skills are identified and practiced with them prior to the activity and processed after the activity. Role-play ahead of time.

Many Attention Deficit students lack friends to be with outside of the school-setting. It can be beneficial to strategize with your ADD ADHD student and his parent on developing a "friendship plan" for the home setting. Sometimes the goal of establishing one special friendship is ambitious and sufficient. This could include steps of identifying friend possibilities that might be available/accepting, practice in making arrangements using the phone, planning an activity or sleep-over that is structured/predictable, and tips on how to maintain friendships over time.

A subtle way for your ADD ADHD student to learn social skills is through the use of guided observation of his peers on the playground. Accompany them on to the playground and point out the way other students initiate activities, cooperate in a game, respond to rejection, deal with being alone, etc.

For many attention deficit hyperactivity disorder students, thirty minutes on the playground is beyond their capability to maintain peer relationships successfully. If necessary, break-up the recess into ten minutes of activity, a ten minute check-in with the playground supervisor, then another ten minute activity period.

Restricting the area available for your ADD ADHD student during recess can increase the contact with adult supervision and lessen the complexity of social decision-making. This can be done privately with your attention deficit student prior to recess. Many ADD ADHD students welcome this manner of simplifying their social interactions during this period of low structure.

It is helpful to meet with your ADD ADHD student prior to his lunchroom/playground period to review his plan for recess activity and with whom he will sit during lunch. Have him ask peers in advance of the recess block to do a certain activity with him. Process the activity with your attention deficit student after recess and make suggestions for the following day.


Elementary School Intervention Pages:



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