This afternoon, a friend of my husband’s stopped by unexpectedly, and he brought his girlfriend with him. Maybe that’s an OK thing with you, but it produced a little bit of anxiety in me.
It might have partially been because I was still in my pajamas (yes, I did say this afternoon, but it was Saturday and I can if I want), but the bigger issue was that, like many other people with Attention Deficit Disorder, my social skills are not the best.
I couldn’t remember the girlfriend’s name, I’m not much good at small talk, and my husband was in the shower the entire time, so it was just me and once in a while, one of my kids left to entertain. I realized later that I never did ask them to sit down. They spent the entire time (about 15 minutes) standing in the entry way while I sat on the steps and tried to make conversation.
People with AD/HD tend to have poorly develped social skills, and as a result, may have either few friends, or an ever changing cast of friends. They may also tend to do what I call “bringing home strays” – making friends with people no one else will associate with.
There are several reasons for this:
- Not being able to pay attention consistently means that you may miss social cues and bits of conversation, making for awkward and sometimes embarrassing moments.
- Lack of impulse control means you may have a tendency to interupt or to say things that are better left unsaid.
- The ADD mind processes imformation very quickly and in a different manner than non ADD minds. It often makes connections that aren’t readily apparent to others. You hear A, connect B, C, and D in your brain, and make a remark on E or F. No one knows what you’re talking about, and you end up being thought of as “weird”.
A few situations like this, and you end up feeling uncomfortable in social situations. You start to avoid them, and to avoid other people as much as you can. If you’re like me, an only child who grew up with a mother uncomfortable in social situations (and with few friends), you have no place to learn things like how to make people feel at ease in your home. It’s something that I can (and do) work on as an adult, because I recognize the importance of it.
If you have a child with similar problems in social situations, you have an opportunity to help them learn to be more relaxed. Start small, and remember that anxiety is easily half the problem, so don’t push and don’t expect too much at once. Above all, help them get out of their head a little bit so that they’re not so busy thinking that they miss the entire encounter.
None of my kids have a lot of friends, but they each have a few really good ones. That’s what I wish for you and your child.