My 18 y/o ADHD teenager has no friends - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

CHADD's ADHD Parents Together

13,834 members4,399 posts

My 18 y/o ADHD teenager has no friends

Microgirl profile image


My son was diagnosed at 5 years old with several issues, to include ODD and extreme ADHD (medicated) and has struggled his whole life to make friends and form relationships. He can not relate to his peers and his "odd" behavior causes kids his own age to distance themselves. He has always lacked appropriate social skills and therefore has not been able to make one lasting friend. To date, he has no one his age in his life and has no social outlet outside of his immediate family. He is alone a lot and is now very depressed and despondent. I have tried everything while he was growing up, from social skills training class, to group/individual sports, chess groups... you name it. Does anyone else have a child like this and is there anything you can suggest. My heart breaks for my son as he comes home from his last year of high school every day and sits in his room (if he is not working at the fast food restaurant... which by the way no one there has befriended him as he says they tell him he is weird). Any help is appreciated

14 Replies

I am an artist and I have a lot of weird friends around. In art school to be strange and weird is more "normal" that in the other places I think. My hart is also breaks when I read your massage ((((

I’m so sorry to hear that! My son is still young, but making lasting friends is something I do worry about for his future.

My “haven’t been there yet” suggestions are:

- What are his interests? Focus on just building up his poor self esteem, and letting him do things he excels in and you can praise him for will help. If it has a club / group, even better

- Find younger friends. Kids closer to his maturity level might be more accommodating to his differences. Extended family, children of your friends, faith based groups, or organizations that aren’t strictly sorted by grade. Or anything that attracts his interests or the other “weird” kids.

- We are part of a faith-based organization, and it has been a wonderful experience for us and my son. People definitely try to be much more patient and understanding.

- Talk to the school counselor or psychologist for ideas / suggestions.

- And mostly, just be his rock & support at home. As I mentioned, by the time they get to the teen years, their self-esteem has been through a lot of beating. If immediate family is his only social outlet, then be prepared to be his best friend. Feel out the times he’s more open to doing things with you or the family. (My son is better at family activities in the morning, but is more likely to share his thoughts & feelings at bedtime.)

Hopefully someone who has been there can give more helpful advice. I found this article, but it sounds like you’ve already tried its suggestions.

I have some friends going through a similar phase, and they let their son just play Fortnite in his room constantly. It’s probab not what I would hope choose, but I guess they feel at least he can be social there in-game. And as I’m not there yet, who am I to judge?

I will add - high school can be a rough time for anyone who is deemed uncool/unpopular, and things can hopefully get better once he’s out in the real world where there are for more different social groups & he finally matures a bit more.

literally one of my biggest concerns as my son has been ostracized by his peers thanks to his first grade teacher not knowing how to handle a child with adhd. I am looking for local groups of kids that may be in a similar boat. It's hard to watch your child suffer and feel so alone. =(

Hi! I’m a Mom with a 7 yr old son and through his diagnosis learned that I have had ADHD my whole life. Your son sounds like me in high school and college. I learned to be pretty content by myself even though I longed to be social - I just didn’t know how and I was afraid that people would eventually figure me out (called imposter syndrome). I took refuge in individual sports like swimming, golf, and karate. These things got me around people but at an arms length which is where I was most comfortable. I found a few people in those settings that I could relate too and made it into adult life with only a few close friends who accepted my quirks.

The only recommendation I can make is to find local ADHD support groups. I go through and have found that the local CHADD group has monthly support sessions and there are also several other parent and professional support groups in my area. Through these sessions I have met people like me, learned about myself and am building confidence. For me, nothing is better than someone telling me they understand me because they are like that too!

Good luck!

My 16 year old daughter has no friends at all. Every time she has a friend all of s sudden they disappearj. When i asked her about her friend she says that they were fake to her. She relates more to male friends than girl friends. However, male friends disappear as well. The other day she says to me that she does not have dry. It breaks my heart to hear her say something like that. But her behavior makes peto stay away from her. It’s really worrying not to see your child with friends. I don’t know if I should tell my daughter that her behavior might be the reason why she doesn’t have friends. But I think I will wait to speak with her therapist.

Has your daughter been diagnosed with ADHD?

Yes she has

I am not a parent but someone with ADHD myself. I dont really have a solution as I still struggle with friendships to this day but I know that understanding my condition has helped me control myself. When I was your daughter's age I had a tendency to latch on to one person at a time. As if looking for that perfect bestfriend. I've come to realize that this can be overwhelming to people and tends to push them away. Then I would begin to feel hurt and betrayed as the other person distanced themselves from me. I would react to this badly by lashing out at the person and having strong feelings of not being understood. I think it may be possible your daughter is experiencing a similar problem. Things that have helped me with this are understanding my condition and stimulate medication as it gives me the ability to think a little before I react to something. I hope this is helpful. I know how hard it is to be a teenager with ADHD.

My heart breaks when I read your post. I can really picture the whole scenario as my brother went through this but he was never medicated and suffered a few epileptic episodes that, clearly, killed millions of neurons. Furthermore, My mom overprotected him causing more damage to his self esteem and spoiled him to the point were he became a demanding and petulant childish boy.

He is now 49 and still with no friends and a mental frame of a 13 year old boy 😔

His support has been family and his Faith in Jesus.

My advice to you is to place your son in an environment where his likes and skills are welcomed. Wheather is a sport, an art form, music, a skill set he exceeds on, etc. We all have something we like and do well even if it is in a solitario way. Does he like cooking? If not, a fast food restaurant is not going to light up his spirit. We can’t control the school environment unless we keep switching schools.

So, encourage him to pursue his hobbies, tap into his potential, whatever that is, and let him gain self confidence. Remembered Forest Gump?

I’m sure he will find a good true friend that shares his interests and accepts him for what he is and has to offer. Get involved with a local support group. A good therapist is also good to have. Have him do an aptitud test and see what comes out of that. He might love working as a librarian, in a TV station as a cameraman or he is just a good mathematician that can work part time as a tutor in college. You have to find his passion. You mentioned sports, chess classes, etc. Did you tried sports out of the box? Fencing, ninja warrior, horseback riding. What kind of music does he like? How about enrolling him in school of Rock, or musical theater?

My brother is very good imitating people and he enjoys making people laugh. Sometimes, he is very silly, but other times he is hilarious. He is very good with kids and entertains them with puppets, etc. He still lives with my mom overseas, and she is overseeing his every move and restraints him, constantly, telling him he is not a clown. What a mistake! He could’ve been a good comedian if he was coached and motivated back when he was young. My mom is old fashioned and narrowed minded. The irony, she is such a talented artist and free spirited when it comes to her desires.

I made a firm commitment not to make the same mistakes my mom made with my brother. So, I educated myself and advocated for my daughter left and right. I even had to fight my husband who was in denial of her ADHD. I knew she had ADHD since she was 4, but was not officially diagnosed until age 10. It took 6 years to have my husband accept the diagnosis and treatment.

I have to say that the elementary years were very difficult and full of drama and bullying. However, the transition to middle school couldn’t been better. The fact that she has to keep moving from class to class has helped her tremendously. She is getting straight A’s in all her subjects and has expanded her circle of friends. She is so happy and so are we.

She is on medication and sees a therapist twice a month. She also has a 504 plan at school. We have built her self esteem very high and she is very resilient and optimistic.

I enrolled her in every single sport and art form there is until we finally found her passion, horseback riding and singing. The interesting part, she excelled in every sport we enrolled her in, and was very good at playing the piano, but lost interest within a year, except, horseback riding. She has been doing that for 6 years and has been singing in the school chorus and church choir for 3 years. She now says her love for horses, dogs and cats inspires her to become a veterinarian and she might be a part time singer 😉

We still have meltdowns, here and there, but we count our blessings and keep hoping for the best with faith in God. There is hope.

Best of luck!

wonderful to hear your story and very much appreciate the time you took to reply as well as your suggestions. Thank you :-)

Microgirl profile image
Microgirl in reply to Microgirl

I fear this will be my future life as described above with you mother/brother

"He is now 49 and still with no friends and a mental frame of a 13 year old boy". With my 18 year old son, there is a very definitive gap between his chronological age and mental age and I know it's not just the old adage that boys mature slower than girls. He has some mental health issues as well (I only focused on the sever ADHD in my original post) and I fear he will be with me late into his adulthood and not be able to be function as an adult on his own. I try very hard not to protect him/ baby him but I also see his limitations and know I have to do a lot of "hand holding" (with the hope that he will eventually get it). He has had therapists/psychiatrists since he was 5 years old but they have not provided any real support or help. He lacks coping skills, social skills, and has no ability to "go with the flow" but now the lack of friends is our current emotional hurdle..... well thank you all for letting me vent on here!!!!! I need this forum to release it in an environment like this where people can relate. None of my friends have a child like him so they can not relate and so most times I keep it bottled up (yes, I went to therapy myself to manage my feelings/son for years!) xo

You’re welcome! Hang in there. There is hope. Read Dr. Amen’s books and Dr. Berkley’s. They are fantastic and they give you a lot of perspectives and guidance.

Hi Microgirl, my son is 15 years old and has had ADHD diagnosis since he was 7. He's never had really close friends, either, like many of his classmates do. I think it does have to do with the fact that his maturity age is technically younger than his classmates, due to his ADHD. He attends a private Christian school because he has been able to receive more personal attention with his studies there through the years, and so he wouldn't have to face all the social dramas and pressures that accompany public school in our area. So, he 's been with the same guys for the last 11 years, and he's still not close to any of them. He has found an outlet in music and swimming, and he and I are really close (his dad's in jail, so no help there...)

I told him once that some people thrive in school, and some people thrive when they finish school. I personally struggled in school, but once I graduated and got a job, I found others I had more in common with, activities I enjoyed doing, and family became more important. I see my son heading that way as well. Is there something your son really enjoys doing, besides video games? Maybe he can get a job working in that area. My son enjoys helping others - maybe your son would as well, and maybe he could work in a more helping profession. Love him so much that home will always be his safe place, but I bet you he will make his way in this world soon.

I am so sorry to hear this. I relate to your experiences so intrinsically. My 18 old daughter is also a senior in high school. She has no friends whatsoever, and no social life outside of school. My heart is also broken. She has never been invited to a sleepover and has spent the sum of her school years not being invited to parties, movies or get-togethers. I work during the evening, so she is also spending most evenings alone. She plays basketball, but has no real friendships with her teammates. She says she doesn't mind being alone. However, I am noticing anger and petulance that wasn't apparent before. Today, we had an explosive argument and she struck me. I threatened to call police, but my older daughter begged me not to. Her father and I have been divorced for a year. Your story resonates with me. I wished you and your son the best.

You may also like...