"Children with ADHD want to succeed, make friends, and do well in group situations, though they often have a very difficult time doing so."
Keath Low, VeryWell Mind
Group situations of any kind present many challenges for all youth with ADHD. Regardless of the group circumstance, if the behaviors being presented by youth with ADHD are not addressed immediately and properly, the overall group experience will quickly deteriorate and become negative and potentially emotionally destructive for both the ADHD youth and the other youth participating in the group arrangement.1
What is ADHD?
ADHD is short for Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. Youth with ADHD, whether boy or girl, is clinically characterized as being unusually hyperactive, extra impulsive, and overly inattentive, resulting all too often in unintended behaviors and consequences...for themselves and others they are with.
Boys with ADHD tend to react before thinking They are extra impulsive. This can cause problems in any group. When the child blurts out or physically reacts without thought of the consequences, it is easy for peers and adults in the group to become frustrated, annoyed, and irritated.2
Boys with ADHD have a difficult time picking up on social cues...facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice. They are often oblivious. It is very difficult for those with ADHD to pick up on social cues such as facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice. Because of this they often misinterpret social cues or miss them altogether. This can cause some very embarrassing moments.2
Boys with ADHD have great difficulty maintaining focus or attention. They can be completely inattentive. They can be easily distracted, which makes it nearly impossible to follow directions and conversations.2
Boys with ADHD may come across to peers in a bossy manner. In an attempt to control their seemingly busy environments, ADHD boys may try to control the actions of others. This bossiness typically creates angry and annoyed feelings in others.2
Keys to Helping ADHD Youth Successfully Interact within any Group Setting
The first key to working successfully with the ADHD boy is to focus on his strengths. ADHD boys are energizing. They are often passionate, enthusiastic, and extremely active. Work to catch the ADHD boy doing good things, and then sincerely and immediately compliment him.1
The second key is to remember and respond with the fact in mind that ADHD boys are usually 2-3 years behind their peers in emotional maturity. Adjust your expectations to match their actual maturity level instead of their age or physical size.1
The third key is to give one-step-at-a-time directions. Many boys with ADHD have trouble following multi-step directions. They will often get distracted and forget the rest of what he was supposed to do.1
The fourth key is to provide predictability and structure to an ADHD boy's day, including routines and transitions from one activity to another. ADHD boys do better when they know ahead of time what they are going to do and how.1
Lastly, always react calmly to anything a boy with ADHD does. Because ADHD is a disorder of self-control, ADHD boys may do and say things that they don't mean. Their impulsivity results in their inability to hold their tongues and restrain their actions. Jumping to reprimand and consequences may only make things worse.1
If boys with ADHD have to be corrected, it is important to consider doing the following:
- Encourage rather than criticize.
- Tell them exactly what you want them to do.
- Refrain from accusations.
- Catch the ADHD youth exhibiting positive behavior.
- Shape positive behavior through praise.
- Move closer to the ADHD youth when you want their attention.
- Ask the ADHD youth to do small errands/chores to redirect negative energy when it appears.1
It is always helpful to carefully communicate your boy's needs to other adults that will come into contact with him. Tell them what works best for him and why. Teachers, coaches, and activity leaders not only do not know your boy as you do, they know even less about ADHD.1
Professional Treatments That Work Best with ADHD Boys
Two of the most commonly used forms of treatment for boys with ADHD are medication and behavioral therapy. The meds help with reducing the symptoms of ADHD, like hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and impulsivity, but they are no replacement for teaching how to effectively deal with emotional problems and social difficulties. This is where behavioral therapy comes in. The boys simply have to learn the proper techniques. What tends to work best for boys with ADHD is using medication and behavioral therapy together.3
Does Residential (Group Home) Treatment Work for Boys with ADHD?
Research suggests that sending difficult children to residential programs may not be as effective as keeping the family together and providing family assistance. Youth who stay at home tend to be less anxious, less depressed, and present fewer ADHD symptoms than those who were in residential treatment.4
"Fear may be a factor. Removal from the home may [serve] to exacerbate existing levels of anxiety, resulting in excessive worry about their future, and concern about past behavior..."
Linda Wilmshurst, Psychologist
And not only that but in the home-model approach, if a parent is having difficulty with a son at breakfast, a therapist could schedule a time to be on hand during breakfast and see the problem for him or herself. Unfortunately, this kind of approach is not often the case in the real world.4 Such an approach is expensive and time-consuming.
Residential treatment is typically the last resort for many over-stressed families. Desperate parents may feel that sending their child to a residential (group home) facility is the only option they have, especially if there are other children in the family.4
1 "How to Help ADHD Children Succeed in Group Situations," Keath Low, VeryWell Mind.
2 "ADHD Children and Group Settings," Keath Low, VeryWell Mind.
3 "ADHD Residential Treatment and School-Based Programs," Lauren Hardy, Healthy Place.
4 "Do Residential Programs Work for Kids with ADHD?, Additude.