Through my blog, I help parents who have children with ADHD and teachers who work with these children. I discuss social skills as well as executive function skills, such as organizational skills.
Through my private practice, I teach children with ADHD to obtain positive social skills as well as to learn more effective executive function skills, such as how to plan their academic work by developing efficient organizational skills.
Social media has changed communication in positive
ways. However, as positive as the benefits are, there are some negative
components, as well. How many of you walk the streets of the city in which you
live? Have you noticed that instead of walking looking forward so that you are
able to nod or to say hello to passers-by, almost everyone has their head down
looking at some device? Why is that bad? Communication between individuals is
based on eye contact. If people do not maintain eye contact, they therefore,
cannot communicate. I am always amazed that people who walk with their heads
down do not trip and fall more often!
Why are people arguably unable to put their cell
phones down for a few minutes to walk looking ahead of them, nodding their head
to approaching individuals or saying hello? There appears to be a sense of immediacy
and almost desperation about finding out what someone has written to them on
Twitter, Facebook, email or text. Unfortunately, due to the lure of social
media, and the gravitational pull that it has on people, they are unlikely to want
to delay gratification. In fact, that is why people text message as they are
driving, which has caused many, many accidents across the United States.
How does being so dependent and arguably addicted to
social media negatively affect your child? One mother told me that it takes her
son twice the time to do his math homework, while making many errors. Why does
that happen?He checks YouTube while he
is doing his homework!
I went to a restaurant recently and a family sat
next to us who had a four year old child with them. The child watched a movie
on their I Pad the entire meal, barely eating and certainly not interacting
with anyone at their table. I have no argument with parents wanting a little
peace and quiet while they eat. However, couldn’t they have made a judgment on
their child’s misbehavior as it was happening, instead of avoiding any social
interaction with their child?
So, in answer to my own question, “What is the
effect of permitting your child to use social media in public?”, I would say
that if you have a child who is young and needs to learn social skills by
interacting with you and/or if you have an older child who’s use of social
media is interfering with his homework and/or interacting with you, it is
essential to change when you permit your child to use social media and for how
You are walking your dog with your child with ADHD.
As you are walking, you stop from time to time to chat with your neighbors. As
you are conversing, your child swings from a branch on your next door neighbor’s
property. You are ready to begin walking home, and you say to your child “Okay,
let’s go. We need to get home.” He says, “Can I swing a little more?” You say
“Yes” but then you also say, “We really have to leave in a minute.” The next
time you tell your child that both of you have to leave, he refuses.
You should never negotiate with your child with ADHD
because you will end up battling with a child who is trying to manipulate you. You cannot get your child to move off of that
branch. What could you have done?
You will not get the results that you want from your
child with ADHD unless you give them a choice. What you could have said,
depending on how close you were to your home, the age of your child and his
related independence was to say, “You can either come with me right now or come
back by yourself in five minutes.” (This strategy depends, however, upon
whether your child has a watch with an alarm that can be set or if he can tell
You could also have said “We can leave now or in
five minutes.” Have the child make a choice as to when he wants to leave within
your parameters. If he says five minutes, then time him and in five minutes say,
“Okay, the five minutes is up. Let’s go.”
This strategy typically works. The most important
thing is to give your child a choice according to your own parameters of when
you need something done. Please let me know if you tried this technique, if it
worked and the degree to which it worked.
Young children with ADHD in most cases will not
understand the nuances and the ramifications of the bombings in Boston.
However, they will feel a sense of anxiety and fear based upon what they have
heard from others, as well as what they have viewed on television.What might we do to calm these children’s
fears and anxieties?
The first thing to do is to sit down and listen to
what the children are saying about the bombing. What do they think happened?
What do they know that are facts? What do they know that are rumors? Answer
their questions while reassuring them. You will be able to generalize some but not all of the details of the
Boston bombings, depending on the age and maturity of the child with ADHD. Remember,
do not only make general statements. Upon discussing the details, however, do
not talk about any specifics that might make them more fearful and anxious. However,
tell these children the truth so that what you are telling them is valid.
The second thing you want to tell young children
with ADHD is that you were afraid as well. In that way, you will be able to
validate the fact that other people were fearful in addition to them. In fact,
they will see that it was acceptable to be fearful. Go over and over the fact
that the bombing suspect is in custody and since what he did was illegal, the
authorities will keep him in jail. You should also explain to these young
children with ADHD that events of this type, i.e., bombings of cities in the
United States, are very, very rare.
It is vital to talk to your child with ADHD who is
either of elementary school age or an adolescent as soon as possible about the
bombing and terror in Boston. (I will address how to talk to younger children
about the bombing of Boston tomorrow.)
Parents oftentimes think that they should wait until
their child asks questions about sad or horrific events. That is not a good
idea. Why? One never knows what the child with ADHD is thinking, and what are
his anxieties and misperceptions.
Here are a list of steps to which you may adhere or modify
in your discussions of the bombing of Boston with your child with ADHD:
your child what he thinks happened.
and/or modify his perception of the events that occurred.
he is anxious about a similar horrific event happening to him.
a.Ask him to delineate each and every
fear/anxiety that he feels
discuss each and every one of his fears
to him the low probability of that dreadful event happening where he lives.
Also, explain to him that the adults with whom he interacts will make sure that
he is safe.
the child with ADHD the positive stories of those individuals who ran into
danger protecting and helped the injured.
what his family could and would do to help if they were in a similar situation,
reiterating again, however, the rarity of this type of event happening to him.
about what positive steps he could take to help people to whom these events
and his friends could raise money for a charity that is helping victims of the
Boston bombing, such as onefundboston.org or the Red Cross. Unfortunately, in
2013, we have to be aware of charities that are scams. Please talk to your
child about this before he or his friends send any contributions.
children can write and send condolence letter to the Red Cross who will send
the letters to the family members who were injured in the Boston bombing.
Perhaps some examples of social
skills deficits/problems might be helpful. Read and see if the child in
question in your classroom or home exhibits any of these behaviors.
Among some examples of social
skills deficits are the following, accompanied by the specific behaviors
characterizing these deficits below, so please keep reading:
✱ Deficits in social perception and
social cognition that inhibit students’ abilities to interact with others
✱ Lack of consequential thinking
✱ Difficulty expressing feelings
✱ Difficulty in feeling empathy for
✱ Difficulty delaying gratification
✱ Inappropriate grooming and hygiene
✱ Failure to understand and fulfill the
role of listener
✱ Inability to take the perspective of
✱ Less time spent looking and smiling at
a conversational partner
✱ Unwilling to act in a social situation
to influence the outcome
✱ Less likely to request clarification
when given ambiguous or incomplete information
✱ Tendency to talk more or less
✱ More likely to approach teacher and ask
✱ Less proficient in interpersonal
problem solving. (Vaughn, Bos, & Schumm, 2007, p. 255)
Before you check to see if the
children in question have social skills deficits, let me give you some specific
behaviors that may occur if a child has these deficits:
✱Difficulties in social perception:
A child walks up to two children who are disagreeing and asks “Can I play?” Even
though the child clearly sees the ongoing argument between the two children, he
seemingly is unaware that they may be so involved with disagreeing that they
may not consider including him at that moment. Additionally, they may become
annoyed with him if he intercedes.
✱Lack of consequential thinking:
A child walks up to another and pulls the chair out from under him. The child
who pulled the chair out does not realize that the child who was sitting on the
chair will fall down on the floor, possibly hurting himself.
✱Difficulty expressing feelings:
A child pushes another one down and cannot say he was sorry.
✱Difficulty delaying gratification:
A child walks up to another who is using a shovel at a sand table. Instead of asking
to use the shovel, he grabs it and knocks the child down. The child did not
have the patience to wait until the other child finished with the shovel.
Instead, he acted on impulse.
✱Inappropriate grooming and hygiene:
A child arrives at school with dirty hands wearing the same soiled clothes he
wore the day before. He may not pay attention to how others view his physical
✱Failure to understand and fulfill
the role of listener: In conversations
with peers or adults, the child
talks incessantly and continuously interrupts. He does not understand that when
one person talks the other person listens.
✱Inability to take the perspective of
another: One child is upset because the other children did not permit him
to play. The child with ADHD does not understand why that child is upset.
✱Less time spent looking and smiling
at a conversational partner: As a child is playing with another, the child
withADHD does not look or smile frequently at the other.
✱Unwilling to act in a social
situation to influence the outcome:
A child is playing by himself on
the playground while watching the others play together. He is unwilling to go
over to those children to ask them to play.
✱Less likely to request clarification
when given ambiguous or incomplete information: A teacher hands out
permissionslips and tells the children to return them to school signedby their parents. She does not tell the children when they
have to return it. The child with
social skills deficits does not ask the teacher when to return the permission
slip and, typically, forgets to hand it in to the teacher.
✱Tendency to talk more or less: A
child either talks too little or excessively to peers and adults.
✱More likely to approach teacher and
ask inappropriate questions: A teacher gives instructions on speaking out
in class. She instructs the children to raise their hands when they have
something important to ask her or to tell to the class.
The child with ADHD raises his
hand and asks “Can we stand up in our seats and shout out our questions?”
✱Less proficient in interpersonal
problem solving: A child feels rejected by another child. He has not
actually been rejected but does not understand how to go about trying to be
friends. (Vaughn et al., 2007, p. 255)
Typically, parents do not seemingly realize when
certain symptoms are present in their child or adolescent. How can that be? We
often see what we want to see, because to see the child or adolescent’s negative
or inappropriate behavior is often too difficult to accept, nonetheless manage.
There has been so much talk lately about the overdiagnosis
of ADHD. The fact that a child has a diagnosis or does not have a diagnosis
does not matter to me. Instead, I look for persistent symptoms that interfere
with (or as the new DSM states, impacts) the life of a child or adolescent with
The operational word here is persistent. I am not
talking about behaviors that the child exhibits once in a while, but rather,
those that occur consistently over time. Some of the behaviors that parents
should notice, as I state in my book
are the following, as adapted from the Conners Rating Scale:
✱ Restless in the
✱ Fails to give
close attention to details or makes careless
mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other
✱ Is an emotional
✱ Restless or
✱ Does not appear
to listen to what is being said to him
✱ Leaves seat in
classroom or in other situations in which
remaining seated is expected
✱ Has difficulty
waiting his turn
✱ Does not know
how to make friends
✱ Disturbs other
✱ Runs about in
situations where it is inappropriate
✱ Has poor social
✱ Fidgets with
hands or feet
✱ Demands must be
met immediately—easily frustrated
✱ Blurts out
answers to questions before the questions have
✱ Interrupts or
intrudes on others
distracted by extraneous stimuli
Restless, always up and on the go
If you have noticed any of these behaviors, please
feel free to send me your questions about how to manage those behaviors.
Rapoport, E. (2009). ADHD and Social
Skills: A Step-by-Step Guide for Teachers and Parents. Maryland: Rowman and
decades-long debate over how many children have attention-deficit hyperactivity
disorder — and whether those who do should be treated with medication — will
only intensify with a new study that shows ADHD diagnoses soaring across the
percent of all school-age children have received a medical diagnosis of ADHD,
including 20 percent of all high school boys, according to a New York Times
analysis of a new national survey done by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
in the Lower Hudson Valley who deal with the diagnosis and resulting treatment
needs say the figures may indicate too many children are being classified with
impression is that it is definitely overdiagnosed,” said Eric Neblung, a
Nyack-based psychologist and president of the New York State Psychological
lot of times, the diagnosis is made by primary care physicians who aren’t
trained to do it,” he said. “Parents may say that their son or daughter has
trouble concentrating, and the physician will jump on it based on a quick
screening. It could be typical adolescent behavior or other things like depression
can’t see how one in five high school boys could have ADHD, a disorder
characterized by inattentiveness and impulsiveness that is attributed to
genetic and possibly environmental
consensus traditionally is that it’s 1 to 10 percent, but even 10 percent is
pushing it,” he said.
Times report, based on a CDC telephone survey of more than 76,000 parents
between February 2011 and June 2012, found that about 6.4 million children
between 4 and 17 had received a diagnosis of ADHD at some point. This would
represent a 16 percent increase from 2007, when the CDC did its last survey,
and a 53 percent upsurge over the last decade.
Times found that about two-thirds of all school-age children currently
diagnosed with ADHD receive prescribed stimulants like Ritalin.
CDC was not involved in the Times’ study, and a representative for the federal
agency said it did not have enough information to assess the report. The CDC
will have its own report analyzing the data
later in the spring. The agency’s survey sought information on children’s
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Rapoport of Chappaqua, the author of “ADHD and Social Skills: A Step-by-Step
Guide for Teachers and Parents” (2009), said that many will be alarmed by the
possible overdiagnosis of ADHD because they assume that children will be
medicated. But this doesn’t have to be so.
become hysterical because of medication,” she said. “But we should be trying
conservative methods first — teaching kids to self-regulate their behavior, to
recognize when their behavior is inappropriate or when their academic work is
ineffective. These kids struggle and need help, but they may not need
is no simple test for ADHD, so it’s up to individual pediatricians,
psychiatrists and psychologists to make the diagnosis.
lot of factors have come into play to drive up the number of diagnoses, local
experts said. Dr. Ronald Jacobson, chief of pediatric neurology at the Maria
Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, said that
it can be simpler
and cheaper to get a prescription for Ritalin than to seek ongoing counseling.
should insist that patients have a comprehensive evaluation, but you don’t
always see that,” he said. “You may want to think about therapy and counseling
and medication or all of those, but many families don’t have the resources or
care to make use of all options.”
rules governing prescriptions also have an impact, Jacobson said, and a new New
York law that takes effect in August will create a “real time” online registry
that tracks who prescribes drugs to whom.
may be more thoughtful about what gets prescribed,” he said.
of whether the growing number of diagnoses are accurate, the higher profile of
ADHD should produce more public awareness of the challenges facing children,
said Christine Reinhard, executive director of the Rockland County Association
for Learning Disabilities.
are not enough support services,” she said. “We need more services like
specialized tutoring and skills training to help them identify strategies that
might reduce the need for medication.”
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Fraum, a psychologist who provides counseling for attention deficit disorder
and hyperactivity in White Plains and Manhattan, said that it’s very difficult
to judge the numbers without having another survey for comparison.
if the numbers turned out to be true, I wouldn’t be surprised,” he said. “You
would be talking about a wide range. Not everyone with attention-deficit
disorder is hyperactive. There are a lot of daydreamers who are inattentive and
try to keep their restlessness down as much as they can.”
said that while school districts may resist the diagnosis, suburban parents can
be very aggressive
in seeking services that come in the wake of an ADHD diagnosis and other
accommodations such as “extra time on the SAT exam.”
Schulman, assistant director of special services for Southern Westchester Board
of Cooperative Educational Services, said that schools have to be careful about
how they explain children’s behaviors to parents and doctors.
is the message we send to parents when a student
may be behaving outside the norm?” he said. “We need to see if these behaviors
can be ameliorated in a simpler fashion without a diagnosis. If a child isn’t
sitting still, is it ADHD or is the child bored?”