How Can ADHD Affect Your Child’s Social Skills?

How Can ADHD Affect Your Child's Social Skills? | Little Feet Therapy | Washington DC, Charlotte NC, Raleigh NC, St Louis MO

Have you noticed that your child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is struggling socially?

Miscommunication and misunderstanding can often plague children with ADHD because of the struggles they may have when navigating their social environments.

ADHD affects your child’s executive functioning, or ability to process sensory input.

Usually characterized by a high level of impulsivity or hyperactivity, your child with ADHD may have profound difficulty in social situations.

Other children may feel they are being barreled over in conversations, or might think your child is being rude when their attention strays.

If your child is noticing that their peers aren’t receiving them well, they may become even more sensitive to rejection and practice their social skills less, creating a negative feedback loop.

Don’t worry, though; there are many ways you can help your child with ADHD navigate their social life.

One method that’s been proven effective is occupational therapy for kids with ADHD to facilitate their social skills.

This type of therapeutic approach often includes peer interactions and social skills therapy to help your ADHD child better socialize.

But for now, let’s take a closer look at how ADHD can affect your child’s social skills.

How Do The Symptoms Of ADHD Affect Social Skills Development?

Social skills help us interact with our environments and the people around us.

Eye contact, facial expressions, and body language are all used to communicate with those around us.

Verbal cues like tone of voice and volume are also important social skills.

Issues with executive functioning, common with ADHD, might make it hard for your child to relate to their peers.

Because appropriate social behavior may be more difficult for your child, their peer relationships may be strained and hard to maintain.

ADHD is now understood to be an impairment of the executive functions, or “controlling parts,” of the brain.

So it’s not that your child doesn’t understand social cues but that they have trouble implementing them in the moment.

Symptoms of ADHD in social situations can be inattentive, hyperactive, or impulsive.

Let’s take a look at


With inattentive symptoms, your child may get distracted while their friends are talking, have difficulty listening, or become overwhelmed.

In particular, they may have difficulty understanding subtext and will miss things that seem obvious to their peers.

Noises may distract them more as well, which could lead to them becoming withdrawn.

Such a response may also be a sign of sensory processing disorder, since studies show there’s a lot of overlap between the two conditions.

In fact, one study suggests that up to 40% of children with ADHD will have sensory processing disorder as well.

This is why occupational therapy treatments for sensory processing disorder and for ADHD tend also to have quite a bit of overlap.


With hyperactive ADHD symptoms your child might hyper-focus or talk rapidly, making their peers uncomfortable.

Their thoughts might seem scattered to others, especially if they speak rapidly.

If your child appears hyperactive, it may be hard for their peers to feel like they are being paid attention to.


Your child may also have impulsive ADHD symptoms that make them aggressive or goofy at inappropriate times.

They may not notice their peers’ body language, which could lead to them invading other childrens’ personal space.

Entering a conversation at the “wrong” time is also an impulsive symptom of ADHD.

How Do The Symptom Of ADHD Affect Social Skills Development | Little Feet Therapy | Washington DC, Charlotte NC, Raleigh NC, St Louis MO

The Negative Feedback Loop Of ADHD And Social Skills

Children with ADHD can experience a kind of negative feedback loop as they try to navigate their social skills.

Social symptoms of ADHD might mean your child becomes bored or seems to check out of conversations.

They might have a difficult time managing their emotions when talking to their peers.

Because of this, your child’s peers may think your child is uninterested or even unkind.

If these behaviors are extreme enough your child’s peers might begin to avoid them, and in that case they have fewer opportunities to practice their social skills.

This could lead to social interactions becoming increasingly “charged” and negative, worsening some of their ADHD symptoms in the process.

You can see how this could negatively feedback on itself and create a feedback loop that could make your child very distressed.

How Can You Help Your ADHD Child Develop Their Social Skills?

Social development can be hard to facilitate, especially during a global pandemic, and especially for children with ADHD.

However, there are plenty of ways you can help your child navigate their social development.

Interactive board games are a great way to practice taking turns, communicating, and changing perspectives.

Provide immediate feedback when you notice something socially – your child’s ADHD may make it difficult for them to remember these situations later on.

Role play and visualization are other skills you can try to hone with your child, helping them build the tools they will need to navigate social situations with their peers.

But you don’t have to do this alone.

Book Your Appointment With Little Feet Pediatric Therapy Today

Occupational therapy for children with ADHD can help your child as they navigate the difficulties of socializing.

If you notice your child is having trouble developing their social skills, it’s a good idea to book an appointment sooner than later.

This is because early intervention occupational therapy has been shown to be more effective than the “wait and see” approach.

Help your child get the best start at developing their social skills.

Book your appointment with Little Feet Pediatric Therapy today.

Little Feet Therapy
3535 Randolph Rd, Charlotte, NC 28211
1331 H St NW Ste 200, Washington, DC 20005
St. Louis, MO
Raleigh, NC

Founded in 2019, Little Feet Therapy offers on site pediatric physical and occupational therapy treatments for children from 2 months to 18 years old with physical and developmental concerns. Our clinics focus on providing therapy in a child’s natural setting where your child is in familiar surroundings, it puts their mind at ease and helps them focus more on the work they’re doing with their pediatric therapist. Our therapists will work with your child at your home, at school, at daycare, or another place in the community where they feel most comfortable.