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What Does Everybody Else Know That I Don’t? Social Skills Help for Adults with ADHD

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Focusing on social skills training for adults with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders (AD/HD), this book offers solutions for tackling behavior that is often inattentive, impulsive, and hyperactive.

Advice is given on how to handle common social problems such as manners, etiquette, communication, subtext, listening, and interpersonal relationships. The format of the book is designed for AD/HD learning styles and includes true stories, practical exercises, and… More >>

What Does Everybody Else Know That I Don’t?: Social Skills Help for Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

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5 Responses to What Does Everybody Else Know That I Don’t? Social Skills Help for Adults with ADHD

  1. Anonymous March 2, 2010 at 12:12 pm #

    There are so many clinical books about AD/HD, but this book is different. It goes behind the diagnosis, treatment and struggles to talk about an often missed area of problem…the social skills area. Without addressing this, the person continues to function without knowing how he comes across in the world. Even the brightest person can alienate others in the social settings and work settings too. I also love the very emotional book of The Other Me, Poetic thoughts on ADD for adults, kids and parents, by Fellman. It touched my heart so…I cried for all those painful times. Thanks to these two authors for addressing the feelings of ADD!
    Rating: 5 / 5

  2. Anonymous March 2, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    The basic premise of this book comes from the idea from Fulgham’s book that “all we know we learned in kindergarten”. Novotni interprets these kindergarten skills as basic social skills, which most ADDers didn’t pick up on in their early years, perhaps because they were too busy running around and breaking things, or daydreaming too much.

    I’m sure there is truth in this. However, the author ignores the fact that for many with ADD, there are also reasons behind their seemingly odd, socially inappropriate behaviours that extend beyond the “just wasn’t paying attention” line. Other issues that many folks with ADD contend with, such as sensory defensive and sometimes perceptual difficulties/learning disabilities, have an impact on their ability to socialise as NTs (Neuro-typicals) do.

    A good example of this can be seen in the treatment of the section on eye-contact. We are told of the importance of effective eye-contact. I have known of the importance my culture places on eye contact for communication for a long time. But I still have difficulties with it. The reasons behind my eye-contact problems have more to do with sensory and information processing difficulties than not knowing that I am expected to use it. Factors such as sensitivity to light can make the experience of eye-contact extremely intense, so that looking another person in the eye can be uncomfortable, even painful for some people with ADD. Another factor, for me, and I imagine some other ADDers, is the difficulty in coordinating concentrating on two things at once or processing a lot of information at once. When I am making eye-contact with someone, it is less likely I am hearing what the other person is saying. I am actually *listening* more when not looking at the speaker. Obviously this makes communication difficult as most people assume the opposite to be the case. There are no tips in this book on how to get around the sensory/ other issues surrounding this particular difficulty. The sensory aspect of the problem is simply not addressed.

    On top of this, it also places a lot of emphasis on etiquette (e.g. phrases such as “according to proper etiquette”) and conforming to “dos”, and “don’ts”. I do want to know what is expected from me socially, but I would have liked a less “do this”, “don’t do this” approach. It becomes a bit overly conformist in some sections. E.g. there is a list of popular traits and unpopular traits. We are encouraged to build on the popular traits in ourselves. But the emphasis on building “popular traits” ignores the fact that many traits that are important for society are not popular ones in our culture. Learning social skills is one thing, but should we really try to change our personalities to make ourselves more acceptable – for popularity? I personally found this section hard to relate to as popularity is not a value I rank very highly. I do want to learn how the culture I live within works, and how to express my compassion for people, but am also quite happy with my eccentricities. Perhaps if the emphasis was more on compassion for others than on gaining popularity, this section would have been more palatable.

    Essentially, this book seems to take a behavioural approach to problems which are often more than behavioural. The assumption is basically that ADDers simply haven’t learnt the rules. I’m sure this is true to an extent, but it doesn’t take into account the entirety.

    Despite the above complaints, this *is* a useful book. It is the only book I am aware of which focuses particularly on social skills in ADD. It is good for learning about what you might not know is expected of you in social situations. I just wish the author had taken a more broad-minded approach.

    (n.b. this is an anonymous adult’s review, not a kid’s review)
    Rating: 3 / 5

  3. R. Dameron March 2, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    I don’t have ADD but I think I’ve married into a family enmeshed in it. I laughed out loud at times while reading this book because it described family gatherings perfectly — the loud, simultaneous “conversations” at dinner, the late-arriver who can never get there on time, the rapid-paced gasping monologues when one recognizes a subject as something he knows about, the conversations carried on from one floor of the house to a remote room on another — all done as if it’s normal! Whether my family by marriage is ADD-riddled or not, they ACT this way and this book was helpful in helping me recognize the activity that stems from this (that comes across to me as “rude”), what are appropriate responses from ME, and, well, how to cope. It also made clear what social rules need to be made explicit because they are NOT going to be “picked up” by social experience.

    Finally, I have a daughter with a genetic syndrome that, among other things, gives her a personality like a high-functioning autistic. I have had to teach her every social rule she knows because she cannot just pick them up by being around others. This book is a good set of skills to use as a checklist re the essentials. It’s obviously targeted to ADDs but its usefulness is not limited to them.
    Rating: 4 / 5

  4. Kate McMurry March 2, 2010 at 4:41 pm #

    Michele Novotni, Ph.D., has more than 20 years of experience as a psychologist working with children and adults with AD/HD. She is an Assistant Professor in the graduate counseling department of Eastern College, Saint Davids, Pennsylvania. She has also co-authored Adult ADD: A Reader Friendly Guide to Identifying, Understanding and Treating Adult Attention Deficit Disorder. Both her son and her father have AD/HD.

    This 314-page book has footnotes at the end of each chapter, an index, a bibliography and several useful appendices, including two social skills checklists. The book discusses the importance of social skills, why adults with AD/HD may not have learned all the social skills they need in their childhood, and systematically teaches these missing social skills.

    This excellent guide is clearly and concisely written. Each chapter ends with a very helpful, gray-highlighted box called “Just the Facts” which lists the major points of the chapter for ready reference.

    It is true that many of the social skills covered in this book are very basic, like remembering to say, “please” and “thank you” and always saying, “hello” when you enter a room and “goodbye” when you exit. However, Dr. Novotni goes much deeper than this level. For example, she covers the important area of observation of subtle social cues, using “I messages” and conflict resolution techniques, all of which most so-called “normal” adults don’t know.

    I believe this book is useful not just for adults with AD/HD, but for parents of AD/HD children, as well. Dr. Novotni has helped me see in a very complete and concrete way the social skills my two AD/HD teens need to acquire by adulthood.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  5. Anonymous March 2, 2010 at 4:51 pm #

    As an ADD parent of an ADD child, I found the book enlightening. It opened my eyes to things I do sometimes, and the social consequences. I also see things that my children do. With suggestions from this book I now have tools to help myself and in turn, help them. I liked that it gave examples of the right words to say, which is sometimes a problem for me.
    Rating: 5 / 5

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