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The Social Executive Function Skills That Elude Kids with ADHD

cringey jokes. Struggling in unstructured social situations.

Children and teens with ADHD know these social struggles and misunderstandings too well. For many kids, friendship foibles like these become a source of shame over time; they question why they can’t grasp what comes intuitively to their peers and may retreat socially, often into the world of “virtual friendships.”Why do kids with ADHD struggle with friendships? Navigating social interactions requires various mental processes, or executive function skills.

Deficits and delays in these skills – which I refer to as social executive function skills – are common in ADHD, and they explain many of our kids’ problems in the social realm.Lagging social executive function skills represent a learning challenge; they prevent children from intuitively picking up on social information from a young age to the same extent as their peers. This should not be confused with struggles stemming from social anxiety or other conditions.Better social skills begin to take root when we understand the foundational skills that cause the most trouble – from internal dialogue and cognitive flexibility to perspective-taking and understanding context – and the strategies that effectively build and support these skills in ADHD brains.Children and teens with ADHD, even if they are socially motivated, tend to have a hard time with the following skills that underlie social interactions:[Get This Free Download: 14 Ways to Help Your Child With ADHD Make Friends]Many children with ADHD have trouble with the above skills because they struggle to “hear” their internal dialogue (which I refer to as their “Brain Coach” to help children make sense of this skill).Of course, ADHD symptoms like impulsivity

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