Teach Social Skills to Help Inattentive ADHD Types: Introduction
Children learn social skills by watching and imitating. Children with inattentive ADHD often have difficulty watching and observing those around them, thus it is harder for them to learn social skills. Lack of social skills can often make them more isolated, and reduce their social learning even further. This article explains how we can teach social skills to help inattentive ADHD types. These ideas can be used in the classroom, or even adapted for a home situation.
Teaching Eye Contact:
Children with inattentive ADHD often find it difficult to maintain eye contact with the person they are talking or listening to. Teach children to pick up this skill by initially insisting that they look at your eyes, while you say a short sentence and to look at your eyes when they answer a question. Slowly increase the time period for which they need to look at your eyes. Reward the child at every stage when they get it right with social or tangible rewards.
Working in Small Groups:
A lot of social skills are learnt while playing and taking part in activities with other children. Put a child with inattentive ADHD in a group with 2 or 3 other children and ask them to do short, structured activity. Short art or craft projects are a great way to start. Avoid competitive games initially. Be around to help out, if the children are having any difficulties getting along. Once the child starts learning to communicate with others you can start giving them semi-structured and unstructured activities like putting up a short skit or a building project where they have to plan and work together.
Making a Social Skills Chart:
For some children, a social skills chart is a great way to help them get into the habit of doing some socially acceptable behaviors. Make a visual chart with pictures depicting a behavior on one column and the days of the week on another. Some of the behaviors that you can depict in the chart are saying "Good morning" to the teacher, asking a best friend if they've had a good evening, offering to help someone, and saying "Thank you" to someone. If your ADHD child carries out any of these in the day, you can put a star sticker in front of it on the chart. Stars can be exchanged for rewards.
Pairing Up with a “Buddy"
Children with inattentive ADHD who struggle with social skills may benefit from a classroom “buddy", or another child sitting next to them who can help them in classroom activities. Over time, the child will pick up many social skills from the other child.
Teaching Body Language and Facial Expressions:
Body language and facial expressions may need to be taught to children with inattentive ADHD. One way to teach them is to show them different pictures from magazines and talk about what the person is thinking or feeling. This will help them understand more about facial expressions and will help them to interpret the feelings of others. You can also get them to imitate various expressions and practice them. All this can be done in an interesting an enjoyable way by picking up characters and scenes from favorite stories, and even popular children’s movies.
Thus, here are a few ideas that you can use to teach social skills to help inattentive ADHD types. Here is another good article on using social story books to teach children social skills.
NB: These ideas and suggestions are based on my professional experience as an Occupational Therapist.