Getting your ADHD child to talk

mother and daughter

How many times have you tried to talk with your child, engage him in a conversation on a certain topic, but failed? You probably heard a short sentence or a few words in response, and that was the end of the conversation.

If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, it is possible that he also has difficulty with verbal communication. In the course of a conversation, concentration and attention are required to register what is being said, understand the topic, and respond appropriately. One must also know how to filter out trivial issues and address the main one. This is not an easy task for children with ADHD.

Let’s try to understand the reasons for this:

Communication channels

Non-verbal communication and body language form an especially important communication channel for people with ADHD, who lack concentration and have difficulty communicating verbally. This channel includes, among others, facial expressions (mimic) and body movements. Sometimes we misinterpret the facial and body movements of the person standing before us; we don’t always understand correctly the body language and interpret it as insulting, disgusting, funny, etc.

Data processing or data loss?

When speaking, the brain must first organize our thoughts and only then express them in words. As part of this process, the brain absorbs information and processes it so that the information can be used. Processing involves the use of short-term memory, long-term memory, and intuition. After all, to give an answer, we must draw conclusions and analyze situations in light of the knowledge we already have. Sounds complicated? It is! Our brain performs many actions at any given moment. For example, in the course of a conversation one must listen, concentrate, understand, internalize, retrieve existing information from memory, draw conclusions, and more. Different brains have different capabilities, and processing is affected by these capabilities, as well as by other factors: the degree of interest in the subject, patience, and impulsivity. Sometimes what happens instead of data processing is actually data loss…

The connection between ADHD and speech problems

Studies show that some of the children with ADHD have difficulties in articulation, fluency, or difficulties organizing their thoughts.  Many of them are easily distracted because they have the difficulty filtering out items that are less important. The result is faltering speech, stuttering, unclear and disorganized sentences, inability to clarify issues, and even excessive loudness. Such situations can lead to impatience and misunderstanding.

Social problems resulting from communication difficulties

Children, who cannot initiate or conduct a normal conversation, fail to develop a two-way conversation with another person and provide logical answers. They may find themselves choosing not to speak in the course of the conversation. This can lead to social difficulties and a decline in self-assurance, sometimes even reluctance to start and develop new relationships. Low self-esteem and a feeling of powerlessness stays with these children into adulthood, and later can create problems in the workplace.

Evaluation of communication problems

Professional evaluation should be conducted by a speech therapist who identifies difficulties in communication, language, and articulation difficulties. Next, the ADHD evaluation determines whether communication problems stem from lack of concentration, impulsivity, or problems with mental organization, which make it difficult to express thoughts and maintain a dialogue. Sometimes the problem falls entirely within the domain of a speech therapist, and after several meetings it is already possible to achieve results. If the problem has to do with ADHD, treatment can be of great help.

Treatment for communication problems

It is important, therefore, to know that sometimes ADHD is the actual cause of communication problems! In non-pharmacological treatment, it is recommended to resort also to computerized neuro-cognitive training, which can raise the level of attention and concentration significantly, and improve responsiveness and thought organization.
This can greatly improve talking and dialogue, all of which will affect the flow of the conversation, and as a result the ability to communicate and form relationships.

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*Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos