ADHD & Social Skills
Positive Self Help

ADHD & Social Skills


When we have conversations with people, it is natural to hold some expectations. Imagine talking to someone who is not focussing on your words or interrupting you in between. You might not want to continue conversing with them, but is it possible that it might not be their fault? 

What is ADHD? 

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in children. Neurodevelopmental refers to the processes involved in the growth and development of the brain. It is generally initially identified in infancy and frequently persists into adulthood.  Children with ADHD may struggle to focus, manage impulsive behaviours, or exhibit excessive activity. 

Read More: WHO Sets New Diagnostic Guidelines for Mental and Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Common symptoms of ADHD 

  • Inattention: A person suffering from inattention may find it difficult to maintain organization,  focus, or stay on a task; these issues are not the result of disobedience or poor comprehension. E.g. A child is unable to concentrate during classes and gets distracted easily. 
  • Hyperactivity: A hyperactive person may appear to move around a lot, even in inappropriate contexts, or they may fidget, tap, or talk excessively. Adults in this category of disorder are often very restless. E.g. A child is unable to sit still in the class and walking or fidgeting continuously.  
  • Impulsivity: Impulsivity is the inability to exercise self-control and postpones gratification.  Someone impulsive could interrupt others or make snap judgments without thinking through the long-term effects. E.g. A child keeps on interrupting the teacher before letting her finish. 

How does ADHD affect Social Skills? 

Social situations are often difficult for those with it. The above-mentioned symptoms of impulsivity, inattentiveness, and hyperactivity make it very difficult for them to communicate according to the accepted norms of society. The behaviours associated with the disorder primarily affect the individual’s relationships. They are unable to understand social cues as other people and face problems in developing social skills.  

The majority of people begin learning social skills in their childhoods, usually through observing others, imitating their actions, and getting feedback.  Children with it, however, may not view them as learning opportunities and might not act in a way that conforms to cultural standards. This could lead to a vicious circle, as because of their behaviour, they might face rejection from peers, which decreases their opportunities to indulge in social situations, further decreasing their chances of acquiring some important social skills.  

Types of ADHD and Their Social Skill Issues 

  1. Hyperactive and impulsive type ADHD: As these people are hyperactive, they can’t remain in one place for long durations, so making a conversation with them might seem very inconvenient. They could come off as being involved in their own thing, or interrupt you continuously. They also tend to respond unfavourably without thinking.  
  2. Inattentive type ADHD: The individuals avoid eye contact, and can’t maintain focus during a conversation. It would seem like they are not listening to you and will be easily distracted by other stimuli in the environment.  
  3. Combined type ADHD: People suffering from this type of ADHD will exhibit symptoms of both the above forms. 

Read More: ADHD: Diagnosis, Types and Treatment

The upsetting side of ADHD 

There is one thing that everyone agrees upon, that humans are social animals. Having fulfilling interactions and meaningful relationships is an integral part of our core being. So, it is utterly disheartening that some children and adults feel isolated, or even unlikeable due to their differences in behaviour caused by a disorder. But what fills our hearts with hope is that the situation can be improved. There are various strategies and interventions,  working along with therapy, which can help an individual gain social skills and become more comfortable in social environments.  

  • Social Skills and Knowledge Acquisition training programs: Individuals with it can acquire and practice critical social behaviors by participating in social skills training programs. Role-playing, communication exercises, and social cue interpretation techniques are frequently included in these programs. 
  • Reflect and introspect: The individuals should Observe their social interactions and recognise their strengths and weaknesses. Being consciously aware, asking others for feedback, and keeping a journal can help.  
  • Observe: Observing how other people respond in different social situations and noting their expressions and body language along with their words and actions can be a good source of learning.  
  • Practice: Individuals can develop their nonverbal indicators of listening, such as nodding,  head tilting, and eye contact. 
  • Empathy and understanding: We have a responsibility to create a helpful and supportive environment for people suffering from ADHD so that they feel accepted and at ease. 
  • Collaborating with educators, guardians, and counsellors: A comprehensive approach to the development of social skills is ensured by collaboration between educators, parents, and therapists. Social skills are reinforced at home and in school environments when there is a cohesive support system established by regular communication and cooperative efforts. 

Also, individuals need to accept that their reactions in social situations will be different as compared to other people, and it is very natural. They shouldn’t judge themselves negatively. The primary symptoms of ADHD which are inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity can hinder the person suffering from the disorder to form meaningful relationships in their lives. This is due to the behavioural variations that occur due to the disorder. However, stronger connections and social skills can be developed with the use of therapy and other management techniques. 

Read More: Understanding the Link Between ADHD and Alcohol Use

Q1. What are social skills? 

Social skills are behavioural patterns that enable effective interactions. They consist of both verbal and non-verbal cues including body language and gestures. 

Q2. What is a neurodevelopmental disorder? 

Disabilities known as neurodevelopmental disorders have their onset in the developmental period and are mostly brought on by complications with the brain and nervous system.  Children with neurodevelopmental disorders might experience difficulties with speech or language, motor skills, behaviour, memory, learning, and other brain processes.  

Q3. Can Social Skills in individuals with ADHD be improved? 

Yes, they can improve to an extent with the help of therapy and different strategies, enhancing the individual’s social experience can be enhanced.

References +

Gillette, H. (2023, June 20). How does ADHD impact social skills? Healthline.
Weber, B. (2023, June 15). How ADHD can affect relationships and social skills.
Sreenivas, S. (2022, July 13). Tips to improve your social skills with ADHD. WebMD.
About Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). (2024, June 27). Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. (n.d.). National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
Koseva, N. (2023, October 26). Can ADHD affect social skills? The ADHD Centre.
ADDA – Attention Deficit Disorder Association. (2024, May 3). Types of ADHD in Adults: Understanding the differences.

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