Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Questions about your Child with ADHD?

School just began, so I am sure that you have questions about your child with ADHD and his/her social skills and/or executive function problems.

Please send your questions and I will answer them as soon as I can.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Why do Children with ADHD Exhibit Socially Inappropriate Behavior?

Children with ADHD who have social skills deficits may behave in a very annoying manner to both their peers and adults. Parents and teachers know very well of these children’s behavior and how others respond to it.

These children may talk excessively without realizing that they are doing so or they may talk so infrequently that people do not even know they are in the room.  Their parents seemingly do not like them; their teachers seemingly do not like them; and other children do not like them. I felt so sad hearing a mother describing her child in such negative terms. I guess she was being realistic, but even so.

As far as social skills go, I do think that kids with ADHD have significant issues with this. Sometimes it seems to be a matter of the fact that they do not notice their own behavior as being unusual or inappropriate in any way. Thus, they make no effort to control it. But, even when pointed out, they often seem unable to control odd or inappropriate behavior.

Okay, so let’s get to the bottom of these children’s social skills difficulties. Children with ADHD of all types may have social skills problems, even though their behavior may be varied.

Why? They have social skills deficits. These deficits typically have been described as either “can’t do”1 or “won’t do” (Gresham et al., 2001, p. 33). They either do not know how to behave in a socially appropriate manner or they know how to behave in a socially appropriate manner, but do not do so. Children with ADHD have social skills deficits that prevent them from developing positive social skills. These children typically do not pick up and internalize positive social skills.
Children with ADHD do not learn positive social skills that are modeled by their parents at home in the same way as children without ADHD do due to the following

  • Lack of knowledge
  • Lack of practice of feedback
  • Lack of cues or opportunities 
  • Lack of reinforcement
  • Presence of interfering problem behaviors. (pp. 28–29).

To be continued….

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Should Educators and Parents Teach their Children with ADHD in accordance with their Developmental Levels or their Chronological Ages?

In 2007, researchers at the National Institute of Health[1] found that “Cortical development in children with ADHD lagged behind that of typically developing children by several years” (Shaw et al., 2007, p. 19650).


“The prefrontal cortex supports a host of cognitive functions, such as the ability to suppress inappropriate responses and thoughts, the executive ‘‘control’’ of attention, evaluation of reward contingencies, higher-order motor control, and working memory” (Shaw et al., 2007, p. 19651).


How do the results of this definitive research affect how educators and parents teach their children with ADHD and manage their behavior? Should we teach these children according to their current developmental levels or according to their chronological ages?


I presented to a wonderful group of teachers at the Goddard School in Yorktown Heights, New York last Friday, and their questions echoed the concerns of other teaching professionals with whom I have spoken concerning the results of this research. As I told them, especially in preschool, in my opinion, educators should try to teach young children with ADHD according to their developmental levels. Why? If you try to teach these children according to the milestones that are attributed to their chronological ages, they will have gaps in their knowledge which will be very difficult to overcome.


The best strategy is to work within each child’s learning strengths and preferred learning style, according to the developmental level that they have reached. Little by little, teach them to a point where they are challenged but not frustrated. In that way, you will help these children feel that they are reaching new strides in their learning at a pace in which they can succeed.


[1] (Shaw, P., Eckstrand, K., Sharp, W., Blumenthal, J., Lerch, J. P., Greenstein, D., Clasen, L., and Evans, A. (2007). Attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder is characterized by cortical maturation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104, 19649–19654. Retrieved from

Monday, September 3, 2012

Challenging Classroom Situations for Young Children with ADHD

One of the most challenging situations for both young children with ADHD as well as their teachers are transitions. These transitions may include going from one activity to another; going from one station to another; going from the classroom to recess; going from the classroom to lunch; or leaving school to board the bus at the end of the day. Why are transitions so difficult for young children with ADHD?

Young children with ADHD become highly focused on the activity in which they are involved. Therefore, they do not pay attention to the directions that their teacher tells them to follow in order to make a smooth transition to the next activity. They are driven by the moment in which they are involved in one activity, so when it is time to transition to a new activity, they find it very challenging to leave the one in which they were occupied.

Additionally, these children often become overly excitable when they are required to move, which may result in them rushing to the next activity that they find more interesting.

Why do young children with ADHD behave in this way? They have developmental delays in their ability to inhibit inappropriate behavior, in some cases of up to three years. In other words, the behavior of a six year old may be more representative of the behavior of a three year old.

This developmental delay offers a dilemma to teachers of young children with ADHD, which we will discuss in the next blog. They do not stop to evaluate their actions. Additionally, they do not remember the reminders that the teacher gives them to put their things away, such as their toys, before going to the next activity.

What can teachers do to help young children with ADHD to transition more smoothly? It is imperative for the teacher to be very clear about the class rules as related to transitioning. In fact, if the teacher collaborates with her students to agree upon the rules for transitioning, the children will feel ownership and will most likely transition more successfully. However, it is very important that the teacher is very specific concerning exactly what she wants the children to do during transitioning, rather than what she does NOT want them to do. It is easier to walk, for example, than it is NOT to run.

Finally, ask the parents to practice transitioning behaviors at home with their children, so that they will have more practice. In that way, the child learns to exhibit new, positive transitioning skills in two settings, ensuring success in whatever setting in which they find themselves.