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Children diagnosed with ADHD present with the core symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity, which lead to challenges with school based activities, including peer interactions, academics, and extracurricular activities (McClelland, Morrison, & Holmes, 2000; Hoza, 2007). Current research identifies social skills interventions as a potential strategy for occupational therapists (OTs) to address these participation challenges of children with ADHD, however there is a multitude of interventions that fall under this umbrella. The variety of social skills interventions allows for flexibility and diversity in implementation, but poses the challenge of choosing the most effective intervention. This choice should be informed by evidence-based practice, ensuring the viability of the profession and moving it towards the Centennial Vision (Clark, 2010). To understand the effectiveness of the available social skills interventions for children with ADHD, a systematic review was conducted. The purpose of this session is to present the results of an evidence-based review on the effectiveness of social skills interventions to improve school participation for children with ADHD and discuss implications for clinical practice.

The authors searched 6 data bases, resulting in analysis of 12 articles to investigate effectiveness of social skills interventions for children with ADHD. The systematic review process is presented, including the clinical question, inclusion/exclusion criteria, and search terms. The authors outline emerging themes within the research. The authors found moderate support for effectiveness of interventions implemented in physical settings where children are naturally engaging in activities. There is also promising research supporting the use of a combined cognitive behavioral and play-based approach. Evidence did not support the use of a solely cognitive behavioral approach

These results suggest that social skills interventions have potential as an effective technique to improve school participation in children with ADHD. Social skills interventions are often used in conjunction with other therapies, and provide a supplement to academics-focused therapy. To advance understanding of social skills interventions, continued research is needed to determine the effectiveness of social skills interventions, discern the most appropriate form of social skills intervention for each student, and solidify OT’s role in social participation intervention.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Retrieved from:

Clark, F. (2010). High definition occupational therapy: HD OT. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 64, 848-84. doi: 10.5014/ajot2010.64602.

Hoza, B. (2007). Peer functioning in children with ADHD. Ambulatory Pediatrics, 7(1), 101- 106. doi:10.1016/j.ambp.2006.04.011

McClelland, M. M., Morrison, F. J., & Holmes, D. L. (2000). Children at risk for early academic problems: The role of learning-related social skills. Early Childhood Research Quarterly,15(3), 307-329. doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2011.03.031.