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ADHD and Social Challenges

The festive season is almost upon us, and this means a multitude of events including social gatherings and family get-togethers. This is sometimes a difficult time for someone who has ADHD as they could struggle to navigate these events.

People who have ADHD often suffer from social anxiety as they doubt their ability to manage these situations successfully. They sometimes find picking up on social cues challenging, may have difficulty remembering and implementing unwritten social rules and may not notice the impact of their behaviour on others.

Social environments cause additional issues as a person with ADHD may become distracted by unrelated thoughts or environmental noises and lose track of the topic of conversation. They could misinterpret what the conversation is about and what the meaning is. Or they could struggle to listen and remain focused, leaving gaps in their understanding of the conversation.

Impulsivity could result in them interrupting repeatedly, initiating conversation at inappropriate times, failing to respect personal space, or talking excessively. These behaviours could be perceived as demanding and intense and could result in irritation in those around them, leaving the person with ADHD feeling rejected, misunderstood, and overwhelmed. The worst outcome of this would be that the person with ADHD succumbs to social anxiety, withdraws from social situations completely and feels isolated.

We know that successful peer relationships and social interactions are important because they teach us to co-operate, negotiate and problem-solve with others.

They also provide a sense of belonging, purpose, acceptance, and care. We have a need for social interactions and stimulation. Good friendships teach us how to work in a group, solve problems, recognize others’ points of view, manage peer conflict, and be accepting of diverse groups.

The correct support could help someone with ADHD learn to regulate their bodies, thoughts, emotions, and understand social cues. This in turn would give them the opportunity to build and experience positive relationships and social interactions.

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