Developing Comfort in Initiating Social Interactions
Young adults with learning disabilities (LD) or ADHD who thrive are those who described themselves as being comfortable in taking the “first step” to reach out to peers and adults (Voices of Young Adults with Learning and Attention Issues). The young adults felt comfortable approaching teachers, co-workers, supervisors and peers to initiate an interaction. Feeling comfortable (confident) in seeking clarification of information from adults whether coaches, teachers, the waiter or a sales clerk is a vital skill. How can we put our children with LD/ADHD on the path toward feeling comfortable in initiating these types of social interactions? It is never too late!
At an early age you begin developing a comfort level by having your student practice making eye contact and saying, “Hi, my name is …,” when they meet another child in the park, in religion class, at the skating rink or standing at the bus stop on the first day of school. Usually parents are good at rehearsing how to appropriately respond when introduced to an adult by shaking hands, making eye contact and saying, “Pleased to meet you.” Greeting people by name is also an important skill to practice in the community with coaches, camp counselors, or after school/ day care providers. Your child needs to know the names of the adults who are supervising them in case the child needs help or has a question. Coach them to say “Good bye” when they leave a situation and say “Thank you” when appropriate.
Another way to gain comfort with initiating an interaction with an adult is in a restaurant or a store. In a convenience store, parents can maintain watch while allowing their child to make a small purchase on their own. Have them practice saying “Hi” to the store clerk as they purchase the item. Eventually they will be comfortable going in on their own and braving the supermarket while Dad waits for them in the front. In a restaurant, have your child order for themselves. Let them ask questions about what is on the hamburger or tell the waiter that they want extra ketchup. The same would apply to a fast food eatery. Saying “please” and “thank you” also goes over well with adults. With practice your student will be comfortable being polite and getting what they need!
A child who is comfortable initiating a simple interaction and has a basic awareness of polite social behavior will develop into a young adult who seeks clarification from a teacher or boss and succeeds in getting a response!
On October 3, 2019 Springer School and Center is joining with The Center for ADHD at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to screen the documentary, Normal Isn’t Real: Succeeding With Learning Disabilities and ADHD. The film features stories of successful young people with LD and ADHD. The filmmaker, Krys Kornmeier’s purpose in making the film was to inspire young people, their families and teachers to persevere. For more information visit: www.Springer-LD.org/normalisntreal.
Blogger Mary Ann Mulcahey, PhD, shares her expertise in assessment and diagnosis of learning disabilities and ADHD, and the social/emotional adjustment to those issues. If you have questions, please contact Mary Ann at firstname.lastname@example.org.