Social Skills Training for the Treatment of ADHD

Research has indicated that the number one treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a combination of stimulant medication and social skills training.  The purpose of this blog is to give a primer for parents on skills training and what this constitutes for a child with a diagnosis of ADHD.  There are four major components associated with skills training for a child with ADHD:

1. Parent training

Parent training focuses on inattentive and impulsive behaviors that are evident within the home environment.  With this intervention, parents are taught specific behavioral strategies to help modify the child’s environment to best manage the behaviors in the home environment.  Time is spent discussing changing the environment to limit distractions as well as create specific and practical schedules of reinforcement to improve the frequency and duration of positive behaviors while extinguishing negative behaviors.

2. Social skills training

Social skills training is often conducted in a group format and focuses on improving the child’s socialization skills in a safe setting.  Here the child is forced to socially engage with same age peers.  In addition, the group leader is able to provide immediate and practical feedback regarding the success or failures of the child’s success in the social setting.

3. Coaching

Coaching involves providing feedback to the child future or past behavior while encouraging them to continue with appropriate and positive behavior.   Research has indicated that there are two main components of the coaching process: 1) setting specific, manageable, achievable, and realistic goals and 2) having regular ‘coaching’ sessions in order to provide insight into the success of the goals.

4. Academic skills training

Academic skills training is when the academic team along with outside interventionists will meet to discuss creating specific and practical behavioral management schedules.  The first step is to ascertain the frequency and duration of negative off-task behaviors.  Furthermore, there needs to be some identification of antecedents and consequences of such behaviors.  Once this is created, the team would be able to meet to create a specific and practical intervention plan to improve the frequency of positive, on-task behaviors.

Taken altogether, social skills training for children with ADHD should really be multifaceted.  It should consist of involvement of the child’s parents and academic team.  There should be some aspect in which the child is able to practice socialization skills in a safe environment.  Furthermore, there should be coaching to help establish realistic goals as well as ensure that the child is able to effectively reach those goals.