ADHD can be defined as a continuum of lagging skills (executive functioning, social cognitive and emotional regulation). The vast majority of educators and mental health professionals receive little to no education or training to help kids with ADHD develop these lagging skills. As many parents have learned traditional “talk therapy” and social skills groups are rarely effective for kids with ADHD. It is imperative that parents (and those who care about kids with ADHD) take ownership of the learning process in order to help kids develop these lagging skills.
Our current child rearing culture (fear-based parenting, “helicopter parenting”, focusing on grades/standardized test scores, allowing kids to spend excessive amount of time in front of screens and on social media and treating kids as physically and emotionally fragile) is detrimental to the development of executive functioning and social skills. Furthermore, research has indicated the the current child rearing culture can be directly attributed to the rise in child anxiety. Research has shown that play/”hanging out” time that is not directed by adults and does not occur in front of screen-based devices is one of the best ways to build social and executive functioning skills. ADHD Dude aims to counteract this unhelpful child rearing culture so kids can develop their executive functioning, social skills and resiliency in ways that are natural.
The current climate in schools has the potential to be particularly detrimental for kids with an impulsive/hyperactive ADHD presentation. Due to their social learning challenges, impulsivity and difficulty with executive functioning some kids with this profile are being punished or entering the juvenile justice system because of their lagging skills. While learning boundaries and experiencing consequences are an important part of learning many kids with ADHD who get into trouble are not being taught skills, they are simply being punished because their words or behaviors are deemed “dangerous” by schools who are trying to protect themselves from litigation. For this reason, it is of critical importance that kids with this profile have an opportunity to develop skills in non-punitive ways.
Kids with ADHD who also struggle socially have social learning challenges. They do not learn social information intuitively and cannot “pick up” social skills simply by being around peers with more developed social skills. Social skills groups, “lunch bunches”, etc. are typically designed for kids with autism spectrum diagnoses who typically have more significant social learning challenges than kids with ADHD. There are no requirements or certifications necessary to teach social skills thus many parents do not know how to determine what types of social skills instruction would be beneficial for their child. Due to these factors most kids with ADHD do not benefit from social skills instruction thus parents/caregivers need to take a more proactive role in helping kids with ADHD develop their social cognitive skills.
ADHD Dude is a community for people who care about kids with ADHD and related challenges (learning disabilities, etc.) and are willing to “think outside the box” in order to help kids reach their full potential.
The views expressed here are the opinion of Ryan Wexelblatt, LCSW, CAS – ADHD Dude