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Friendship Clinic: Psychologist Helps Children With ADHD Make Friends

en with ADHD improve social skills and develop positive behaviors. So far, the results are promising.

Parents and teachers are reporting that the children with ADHD who have participated in the intervention program are making friends more easily, are better behaved, and more willing to cooperate with peers.

“These skills are not easily taught,” Mikami said. “Making friends is a proactive process that does not come naturally to children with ADHD. We really have to work closely with the parents and children to set the stage for life-long social skills.”

Mikami’s clinic offers children with ADHD and their parents an eight-week program involving weekly 90-minute parent group training sessions, three one-hour supervised playgroups and “homework” assignments designed to put into practice the techniques learned for making friends. The parents learn new skills as a group working with a therapist, helping each other in the process.

“We teach the parents how to be friendship coaches,” Mikami said.

Parents in the program learn ways to help their children play cooperatively, how to settle social disputes, how to foster a relationship than can last. They learn to help the child pick the right playmate, they learn to structure time for positive activities and to intervene in a positive way when problems develop. Several play dates are arranged to allow Mikami and her colleagues to assess the effectiveness of the training, to see the work in practice.

“We help the parents build a relationship with their child,” Mikami said. “We do some role-playing, where the parent steps into the role of the child, to try to understand the world from the child’s point of view.”

One parent who participated in the treatment group, Stephanie Shelton, said her son Brandon and her entire family have benefited from the program.

“I came to know other people who are dealing with the same issues of having a ch
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