Impulsivity & Hyperactivity

Skewed Perceptions of Reality in Children with ADHD

My 12-year-old son’s perception of reality is askew. For example, he thinks Tiger Woods would give him golf lessons if he writes and asks him. No amount of explaining will persuade him otherwise. Now he’s being teased by classmates. What can I do to help him deal with reality?

Wishful thinking isn’t necessarily harmful — adults, too, often get lost in dreams and wishes. But, as Russell Barkley, Ph.D., explains, people with ADHD, who have trouble inhibiting their behavior, have a difficult time keeping their inner worlds private. You might give your son a “dream” journal, where he can record and explore his dreams and wishes to his heart’s content. With this outlet, he may feel less need to express them verbally.

At the same time, you’ll want to figure out what’s driving the behavior. Could your son’s wishful thinking (and public telling) indicate a need to feel special? If so, you should help him cultivate his interests. If he likes golf, perhaps it’s time to sign him up for lessons.

If you or your son’s teachers think his behavior is more than wishful thinking or attention-seeking, I’d recommend meeting with a professional to determine whether there is a problem beyond ADHD.