Doctor William Pelham shares a powerful story about a child with ADHD that transformed how he views the disorder, and reveals the real reason you want to get it handled.
It’s not about higher scores on tests. It’s about having a life you like, with friends, successes, and self-esteem.
One of the areas that is most problematic is the ability to get along with other children. This is something that very few people thought about for a long time.
Dr. William Pelham:
I didn’t think about for a long time, I was doing a study in 1977, we were doing a treatment study for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and at the end of the study I was meeting with the teacher of the child that I had worked with for the whole year.
Everybody told me that he made tremendous progress, we’d tried some behavioural treatments, some medication, he was doing well and so forth.
I meet with the teacher and ask where the kid is and I was observing him and he was all by himself at one end of the playground.
Everybody else is playing with someone else and I realized that not one person talked to him or wanted to play with him he was all alone at recess.
I asked the teacher why he was all alone and she said no one likes him they all hate him. She says he is obnoxious to other kids so no one talks to him they just avoid him.
I said that we’d been working with each other for a year and you never said anything about peer relationships and she said that you never asked about peer relationships.
So immediately we went to the literature to see what peer relationships was like in ADHD kids. We took all the kids in the study and did sociometrics in there classrooms.
When you do that it means having all the kids in the class fill out a piece of paper and they list the names of 3 kids they like and 3 children they don’t like.
Almost every kid had about 10 people who they didn’t want to know and that they didn’t want to play with. That was about a 50% rate of the kids in the class. That was more then 3 times higher then the non-adhd kids in the class.
We were shocked by the results because this is not something that we have thought about before. We immediately started working on it because this was a hugely important domain and these kids had a lot of difficulties.
That finding of watching the kid at recess lead to the whole field in social skills training for kids with ADHD to the summer camp.. … things they do in peer relationships.
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