It’s quite heartbreaking for parents to know that finding friends and being able to form meaningful friendships with other teens will be one of the most trying hurdles that teens with ADD/ADHD will face. Many teens will have problems with being unable to relate to other socially. They may be a bit spacy, unable to read or properly interpret subtle social rules that make up a large part of acceptability during interaction with other teens. They may be painfully shy or terribly unfocused. They may be struggling in school and have their plate too full to think about making friends.
There are many thing that you can do to help your child create meaningful friendships with kids of their age group. One of these would be to enroll your teen to a specialized ADD/ADHD summer camp.
Specialized summer camps have become instrumental in the lives of many ADD/ADHD teens, especially with regards to their social skills. Here’s why:
- They are taught interdependence – Instead of staying at home during the summer and playing video games for hours on end, enrolling your teen in a wilderness camp will promote physical activity. Not just any kind of physical activity, though. Specialized summer camps for ADD/ADHD teens usually focus a lot on helping teens focus less on themselves and be involved with other campers as well. Activities are designed where the best way to progress is to help each other out. This way, your teen will be encouraged more to open up to other campers in order to “survive” in camp, so to speak. Many teenagers who used to have a hard time making friends show a remarkable improvement after spending several summers in specialized summer camps.
- They are encouraged to reach out – A lot of teens with ADHD/ADD find it hard to reach out to other people because they are often misunderstood. They often prefer to work thing out by themselves because they feel others will reject them or think them stupid if they take longer than others to process the information that they get. In ADD/ADHD summer camps, teens are encouraged to reach out to other teens mostly because of camp facilitators and counselors who proactively break the ice between the teens.
- Camp staff are trained to help campers socialize with each other – Initially, camp counselors and staff make a lot of effort to gather teens together for activities. If one teen is sitting alone, a counselor may start a game with a few teens and invite teens who are sitting alone in it. Group games are continuously being initiated to encourage participation and camaraderie. Eventually, when the campers are more at ease with other campers and they are more confident that they will not be rejected by the others, the counselors will step back and let the campers socialize by themselves.
- Teens will feel that they’re not isolated – ADHD/ADD teens who are left alone to their own devices often get depressed because they tend to hyperfocus on themselves. When surrounded with teens that have similar struggles that they do, your teen will understand that the things he/she is experiencing is something surmountable. Spending time with other teens that face similar challenges will most likely be an encouraging experience. Being around people who understand them and are not about to judge them because of the symptoms of ADHD/ADD will help them venture out of their comfort zone more.
- Gives your teen something to look forward to – Summer camps are very enjoyable because of the many activities that teens enjoy doing together. Before long, your teen will be looking forward to spending time in camp, especially when he/she has begun making friends there.
The socialization skills that they will learn in specialized ADD/ADHD summer camps will be something that can help them cope with life during high school and afterwards. It’s not impossible for your ADD/ADHD teen to develop meaningful friendships and relationships with other people. Sending them to specialized summer camps as well as learning how to extend the things that they learn in camp to their home environment will be very helpful.