Does ADHD Cause Social Problems?

Published March 11, 2020

Sometimes children with ADHD don’t fully understand what is expected of them in social situations.

Children with ADHD usually encounter many obstacles in school, finding it difficult to succeed in their studies. Many children with ADHD face difficulties in reading or math, organization, focus, attention, and more.

Many students with ADHD also have social and communication difficulties. 

As a result, making friends becomes a great challenge that can interfere with their self esteem and confidence.

Common social challenges associated ADHD:

  • Missing social cues
  • Misinterpreting body language and tone of voice
  • Talking too much, or at the wrong time
  • Responding inappropriately in social situations
  • Misinterpreting jokes
  • Difficulty participating in group interactions

Why is ADHD associated with social challenges?

Children who struggle to connect with other kids may be experiencing difficulty with one or more of the following:

  1. Comprehending social interactions
  2. Organizing information into a desired response
  3. Retrieving language to express a response

1. Difficulties with comprehension

Many children with ADHD have difficulty understanding social patterns and cues, and are unable to intuitively recognize the rules of social interactions, such as when joining a group of peers, responding to a greeting, or listening to a joke.

As a result, a child with ADHD may exhibit inappropriate behavior in certain social situations.

2. Problems with organization

Children with ADHD may present with executive function challenges. They may comprehend the information spoken to them, but have trouble organizing or prioritizing it.

For example, a child with ADHD may hear the teacher’s question, but pay more attention to a whispered comment from a classmate instead.

Additionally, children with ADHD struggle with self-regulation, or management of their own behavior. As a result, a child with ADHD may say something inappropriate in a social situation, because he doesn’t fully understand that there may be a consequence to his actions.

3. Problems retrieving language

Children with ADHD often struggle with language, many times due to a difficulty with rapid word retrieval— which can affect reading, writing, and speech, and therefore most social interactions as well.

Social challenges cause reduced self esteem

Many times, children with ADHD suffer from low self esteem, mainly because they have simply been struggling for success in reading and writing while watching their classmates master these tasks more easily.

These basic skills are needed for success in learning and school performance.

Children who have not been officially diagnosed with ADHD, most likely have been accused of not trying hard enough— causing feelings of inadequacy and “I am not smart enough”. Many children with ADHD try to hide their struggles to avoid negative stigmas. As a result of low self esteem, these children will face social challenges.

Although children with ADHD struggle with many difficult challenges, they each have a unique set of gifts that can help them conquer the world— they just need the confidence and proper support to help them reach their fullest potential.