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Arnett Lab | Caregiver and Child Resources | Overview

The goal of our video blog is to summarize ADHD-related research and discuss implications for day-to-day care of children with ADHD. We hope that you find the content in our videos to be entertaining and helpful! Thank you!

-The Arnett Lab

Episode 3 Summary:
Children and adolescents with ADHD often have difficulty with social interactions, both with peers and adults. They may miss social cues as well as experience problems with taking turns or having back-and-forth conversation (i.e. reciprocity).

One question researchers have asked is whether these challenges with social interaction stem from a social skill acquisition deficit or a social skill performance deficit. An acquisition deficit would mean that a child with ADHD does not have the social skills or has trouble learning and acquiring social skills. In contrast, a performance deficit would mean that although the child has the skills, they have difficulty applying those skills in a social situation.

In studying this question, many researchers have found that children and adolescents with ADHD tend to have a performance deficit when interacting with others. In other words, they seem to acquire social skills just like other typically developing children but they face greater difficulty in applying these social skills in conversations and interactions with peers and adults.

Based on this research, interventions that tend to focus on social skills acquisition may not be as useful or effective. Instead, more helpful interventions may be to allow a child with ADHD to directly practice and improve upon their social skills in a social setting (e.g. having a parent set up and help facilitate playdates between their child and their child’s friend).

Abikoff, H., Hechtman, L., Klein, R. G., Gallagher, R., Fleiss, K., Etcovitch, J., Cousins, L., Greenfield, B., Martin, D., & Pollack, S. (2004). Social functioning in children with ADHD treated with long-term methylphenidate and multimodal psychosocial treatment. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 43(7), 820–829.

Aduen, P. A., Day, T. N., Kofler, M. J., Harmon, S. L., Wells, E. L., & Sarver, D. E. (2018). Social Problems in ADHD: Is it a Skills Acquisition or Performance Problem?. Journal of psychopathology and behavioral assessment, 40(3), 440–451.

Ros, R., & Graziano, P. A. (2018). Social Functioning in Children With or At Risk for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Meta-Analytic Review. Journal of clinical child and adolescent psychology : the official journal for the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, American Psychological Association, Division 53, 47(2), 213–235.