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9 year old with ADHD and on medication talks to himself a lot

Pattimum profile image
9 Replies

I’d like some advise, maybe parents who’s children also used to talk to themselves and now they stopped and manage to internalise dialogue rather than have it loudly.

My son is nearly 10, of course when he was smaller he talked to himself in play etc but now he’s nearly 10 and he still can’t internalise it. He goes out to the garden on his own and he’s practicing his football whilst pretending that he’s a sports commentator at the same time. He plays on Nintendo and talks to himself. He goes to bed and he talks to himself. Also I noticed that when he has more stress he does more of it.

He even does it now on the way back from school- instead of chatting to me he’d do some ‘rapping- rhyming’ . He likes hip hop music… But it’s a lot of gibberish what he produces. From distance it looks like a lunatic talking to himself.

Now his swimming coach the other day had like this ‘feeling sorry for me’ looks when I asked her how he’s doing. She said he’s fine but he is talking to himself or his imaginary friend whilst swimming. I then looked next time through the glass and I could see his lips moving all the time when he swims on his back. I asked him later about it and he gets very angry with me and he said he was ‘tapping’. He doesn’t t understand that he will have even greater stigma if this will fully become his habit and when he can’t control it. I noticed already that he’s sort of not aware that he’s doing it…

He is already bullied at school and I am in a process of moving him. I’d like him not to bring attention to himself in this way at the new school. I’d like him to learn to internalise it and control it. So he didn’t do it in the public places like school etc.

Any evidence based strategies to teach kids internalising their dialogue?

9 Replies
Onthemove1971 profile image

Thanks for sharing your situation with us.

Just curious, is he an only child?

Also, have you asked a therapist about this?

Sorry I do not have any evidence based research for you.

I have 2 suggestions:

1. Do some research about what age children start to internalize conversations

2. Try to consider what benefit talking out loud has for him...

Your son sounds amazing and focusing on that might help.

Good luck in figuring this out.

Pattimum profile image
Pattimum in reply to Onthemove1971

thank you for encouraging words. He’s got a younger brother and they play together a lot- then he talks to brother.

It seems he does a lot of ‘rhyming, rapping’ and talking to himself on top of that. He also doesn’t cope well with ‘quiet’ so let’s say he has to have radio on at breakfast time or during the meals. I think it’s something to do with ADHD and ‘noise’ in his head?

He doesn’t have yet any therapist, just his psychiatrist and ADHD nurse practitioner. I will be getting him child therapist soon, just need to find someone right.

Onthemove1971 profile image
Onthemove1971 in reply to Pattimum

Quiet time can be hard for our busy kids.

I once heard our kids are like a "Ferrari on roller skates". For quiet time he has to slow down.. I even have trouble turning my brain off.

Best to you!

IheartDisney profile image

Does he do any jumping around, moving his leg, tapping his pencil or anything like that? I just know that ADHD kids are ALWAYS moving some way and if he isn't physically doing all of those things, then maybe him talking to himself is a way that he gets that movement. I would also talk to a therapist and his psychiatrist. My son does talk to himself a lot, but he watches sooooo many youtube videos and EVERYONE is talking in there so he is really emulating them. It sounds like your son has been doing that for so long, it probably isn't that, but I thought I would mention it. My son is 10. Also, my son can't have slience at all. Even when he is playing video games, he has his tablet next to him that is playing some video. He constantly has that continuous talking happening.

Snaizy profile image

have you had him screened for any autism spectrum disorders? That sounds like behavior that is more characteristic of ASD then ADHD. I don’t mean to alarm you but having been through an initial ADHD diagnosis that over time was refined to actually include Asperger’s (high functioning autism) that might be part of the picture here and worth looking into. If it is, there are specific behavior modification therapies that might be useful. He probably can’t control it which is why asking him to stop as if it’s a voluntary habit might not be effective.

Pattimum profile image
Pattimum in reply to Snaizy

Any suggestion help! I wasn’t aware that not being able to internalise thoughts is ASD characteristics. I was more worried that Atomoxetine makes him ‘manic’ , a bit like bi polar in a manic stage…

Snaizy profile image
Snaizy in reply to Pattimum

I’m not familiar with that medication but do you notice that he doesn’t talk to himself when he’s off the medication? That would be a clue as to whether the self-talk is a medication side effect or just a tic/habit that exists apart from medication.

Pattimum profile image
Pattimum in reply to Snaizy

It’s hard to know anymore what is medication side effect and what is not. He has had tics in the past - coming and going.

Self talk definitely was at its worst when he was on Methylpenidate- he had all the side effects (from both rare and very rare lists including rebound, pressure of speech, change of character, aggression you name it…He had it all, even excessive sweating .)

So we changed to Atomoxetine but there are other variables too- for example bullying as a stressor. ..

In general I noticed that he talks to himself more when he’s stressed and he’s been bullied at school for over a year now so he is stressed. It’s just so annoying when he’s in the garden playing football and then this constant narrative ‘Great goal from Neimar…pass to… and so on and so on. ‘

Specific behaviour modification techniques would be great, regardless if its ASD or not… I suppose I need to ask his CAMHS ADHD specialist practitioner. As you say, me asking him to stop talking to himself doesn’t work as he seems not able to stop. He’s not able to internalise.

asieslavida profile image

Hello Pattimum, this post could have been written by me. Same case, 10 year old that also talks to himself a lot. He doesn’t when he is really engaged with someone, reading or doing homework. It’s like his imaginary world is way more interesting to him. His doctor said once he grows up more he would be able to internalize it. If live to hear if there are any effective strategies to help him as well.

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