minerals medication an alternative to combat adhd

Communication issues in people with ADHD

Dr Shelley Hyman

Research findings are showing that people with ADHD have problems with communication in ways that can make them present as very egocentric. These issues can have a major impact upon relationships and quality of life.

A research study from the University of Waterloo finds that people with ADHD have a decreased ability to empathise with the perspective of their conversational partner. In two studies, participants were children with and without ADHD, and undergraduate students with varying severity of ADHD.

Participants were to follow the instructions on how to move objects based on the instructions from another person who had an obstructed view of some of the objects. Participants with ADHD made more mistakes interpreting which items to move based on their partner’s directions.

These studies show that the greater the ADHD symptoms, the less likely they are able to use the perspective of the speaker to guide their understanding of their instructions.

The ability to consider other’s perspective during communication necessitates cognitive resources such as retaining information temporarily and the ability to inhibit a response. These skills tend to be underdeveloped for individuals with ADHD, and may explain why their interactions with others is often more egocentric, or based on their own perspective.

The findings are important because they may lead to new remediation that can enhance the way in which people with ADHD relate and communicate with others. Social skills training programs for children with ADHD often don’t yield significant benefits when children return to their social environments, but interventions may be able to achieve more beneficial outcomes if they are better targeted at what exactly is causing these communicative difficulties.

At the Sydney Cognitive Development Centre we have both social skills training and speech therapy that caters particularly to children & adults with ADHD and can address specifically these needs. Call us now to find out more: 9387 6166.


  • Elizabeth S. Nilsen; Leilani Mangal; Kristi MacDonald. (2013). Referential Communication in Children With ADHD: Challenges in the Role of a Listener. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
  • S. Nilsen, T. A. Mewhort Buist, R. Gillis, J. Fugelsang. (2012). Communicative Perspective-Taking Performance of Adults With ADHD Symptoms. Journal of Attention Disorders, 17 (7)
Dr Shelley Hyman

About Dr Shelley Hyman

Senior Clinical Neuropsychologist. BSc (psychol) Hons, MClinNeuropsych, PhD (Med) MAPS CCN. Founder and director of the centre that was founded in 2006.