Social Cues

Updated on April 22, 2011
M.B. asks from Lafayette, LA
12 answers

My daughter is 12 and in the 6th grade. She is VERY active in church and school, in addition to taking acting classes. She has also been diagnosed with ADHD and is on Strattera 40mg. However, I'm noticing issues with her understanding social cues. It doesn't matter what is going on - she will bring up something from MONTHS back, that maybe she overheard in a conversation, in the most inappropriate times. We could be having a discussion about dresses for an upcoming wedding and she will pipe in with "Who was that person that you said drove their car into the ditch because the road was too slick?" I have asked her to pay attention to what the conversation is and if it’s completely off topic, it may not be the right time to bring it up.
We went on a road trip recently. I was in the front passenger side and she was back driver's side. She was reading jokes off her iPad (BTW: Before I get snide comments about overindulging, spoiling or ‘buying’ her love – it was a gift from my brother). She would read them and then show me so I could re-read them. She would want to show me a picture, and then the next one, then the next, and so on and so forth. I would purposely start to read my book again and she would say "Mom! Mom! Mom!" until I would look up and it was yet, another picture!
Tonight, I was (silently) reading a passage from a book. She started talking about, I don't even know what. I finally turned to her and asked her what she was talking about. She said she wasn’t talking to me, but to her sister…Who was sitting next to me texting her friends. Our body language was obvious that we were doing something else, yet – she continued to talk for a good minute to minute and a half before I stopped her.
I seriously don’t think she’s lacking attention. We do a lot of things together and I too, volunteer at the church and school – so she sees me a lot. Sometimes, she will come sit in my area to chat or help me if she’s not in class. We are highly involved in her acting as parent volunteers also. Her sister works weekends, so she and I have plenty of time to “hang out” running errands, having lunch or going to the movies together.
Is it possible we’ve given her too much attention? She is the baby and even her sister dotes on her like we do. I just don’t understand that when she sees me (or DH or DD) deep in an activity, she will start talking or NEED to show us something (usually – it’s nothing majorly important). She will talk and talk and talk…We would even turn our body in another direction and she will continue to talk. I have a friend with a son who has autism and she told me she took him to a therapist to help him with his social cues b/c he wasn’t getting it. I’m wondering if I’m doing something wrong, should I have her tested again (if so, for what?), is it the age? HELP?! Thanks Mamas!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

WOW! Thanks for all the feedback Mamas! It’s wonderful to know I’m not alone. I especially want to thank the perfect Mamas that browbeat us lazy Mamas for ignoring our children and having them medicated! I mean, seriously – WHAT was I thinking when I had her in therapy, seeing our Dr., dietician changes, questioned medical professionals about what could be wrong, sought 2nd opinions, chasing this for 4 years and finally succumbing to medication at the age of 11…When in reality – all along, I was just being lazy, ignoring the problem (I guess in this case, my daughter) and dosing my her up so I can focus on myself!!! Thank you again for your judgments – without you all…How would we know we suck as mothers and should have been fixed like animals years ago?! I can’t imagine the destruction of our future without the perfect mamas teaching their children to be perfect and to judge the future generations of our lazy, incompetent children!
For those other lazy Mamas (much like myself) – Thank you for your understanding…I guess it is an age thing as other lazy Mamas I’ve spoken with say their children (medicated or not) do the same thing. I will continue to be direct with her, repetition, encourage and support her.
I mean, it is the LEAST I could do considering I don’t do much else?!

Featured Answers



answers from San Francisco on

I agree with Catherine C. I don't think her tendency to interrupt means there is anything "wrong" with her. I think it's just one of those things you're going to have to teach her.

And my kids interrupted a lot, principally because I never corrected them.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Sacramento on

My daughter is a bit younger (almost 9) and she gets off track sometimes, too. I think the thing is, kids don't naturally "get it" always. You have to tell them in very direct terms what you expect of them. For instance, my kids will tend to want to interrupt me if I'm reading a book, and I will look right at them (and make sure they are seeing me, hearing me, and paying attention), and say, "I am reading a book. It's rude to interrupt unless there's an emergency. We will talk in a few minutes." And then go back to reading. Then, in a few minutes when I have come to a stopping place, I'll say, "What do you need?" and we'll go from there. There is nothing wrong with telling a child that they're being obnoxious, if they are. Someone needs to tell them, or they'll never know! My daughter always wants to tell me every.single.scene from movies that she has seen. I have actually said to her, "Sweetie, I know you're excited to talk about this movie, but I haven't seen it. When you tell me every single scene from the movie, it's not really helpful because now if I ever do see it, I will already know what happens and it won't be a surprise." And then the next time she launches into a recitation, I will say, "Sweetie, you know that thing we talked about with you telling every scene from a movie? You're doing it again." She is getting better about it, but I think this is something kids just naturally do, and honestly I've met adults who are the same way (nobody ever corrected them!). I think like anything else, social skills come with practice, and some people are just naturally better at it than others.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on


2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

It sounds like you have a totally excited little girl that wants to be a part of everything. If she is wearing you out maybe it's not her. I know that you said that you pay attention to her and are around her all the time, maybe since you dote on her and giver her all that attention, she is demanding more. What yu should do is maybe have her read a book and then write a report on it or do a play about it as a surprise that way she works on her own. Maybe that is the problem she is never left alone to play by herself, or is scared to be alone. Try getting her to do activities that only she can do and then show you later. Have her write about her day in a journal or something that is hers and hers alone. I wouldn't worry about being tested for social cues. I think there is too much stress on kids now a days what with: ADHD, Social Cues, Medication, being at the right learning with the other kids in their age group. If you stop stressing, and let her have 60 min of talk time, then have her do something by herself, or write in her journal with music playing for 30 min a day. Think of activities for her that would be challenging but "teach her social cues".

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I agree with Catherine C. She may just need a lesson from you on social cues. It's not something children are born with. I think she's trying to share some of her world with you, which is actually a good thing! You should worry if she never wants to share anything.

Just discuss the behavior when it happens in a calm and rational way. I don't think it's odd for your daughter to want to show you every single picture, mine does that occasionally. I just have to say "I think your pictures are lovely, but I'm busy right now so you go ahead and enjoy them."

You can go ahead and be direct. "Honey, as you can see your sister is busy texting right now so it's rude to interrupt her unless it's an emergency."

I think by being direct but also firm and loving she will pick up on the social cues eventually. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

1st get her off sugar, and processed food- check Feingold- Dr. Feingold figured out what food messes kids up- and there are support groups to do this correctly.
Behaviour and Diet- food effects behaviour- if you let her eat anything w/ sugar just know she looses some of her ability to control herself- this is not a lack of a drug- really- look at her food,
I know it seems easier to drug our kids than to take the time to handle their food properly, but why did we have kids except to make sure they grow up to be healthy happy folks. So don't drug them.
No it is not possible you have given her too much attention.
Please do not add another drug. really.
Best, k

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tallahassee on

M. B - I need to ask you a question - Is your daughter the first child that you have known/experienced that has with ADHD? If so Welcome to our world. I have 1 son with severe ADHD and 1 daughter with ADD. They are very opposite in symptoms.What you describe is very common, my son does this all the time. It doesn't matter how much you explain to them that it may not be socially acceptible, they are going to do it. My son does it to me in the car ALL THE TIME when I am driving and he is reading etc in the back seat. He gets quite insistant, I tell him No I have to look at the road or crash looking back at the magazine etc.

The other thing to expect is that they overhear a conversation that has NOTHING to do with them and weeks later will announce it to who ever is within earshot!! Blurting is a result of poor impulse control. My son is 11 and has had ADHD since Pre-K. He was not diagnosed however until 1st grade. Just be consistant, each day is a new day and all the rules have to be repeated.. I also have my son on a restricted sugar diet. He steals food when ever he can and chooses the worst things when I am not there to stop him. The fish oil did nothing for my son. My son was also tested for Autism but didn't have it. You will have to stay on the school too, I cannot stress that one enough. My son can have self control when he feels like it but that is few and far between. Good luck, contact me if you want to chat.



answers from Orlando on

I just started my 7 year old(sounds like your daughter) on a supplement that you can get at Whole foods, Chamberlins, or most healthfood stores. It's called "total calm kid". It is a powered drink mix that you keep in the fridge & it tastes like strawberry lemonade. It seems to be helping. It has a combination of vit B, L theanine, DHA, chamomille, & a few other vits.

Hope this helps!



answers from Miami on

Sounds like she may have Asperger's as well as ADHD, or instead of..... she would surely benefit from a pragmatics group run by a qualified speech/lang path!



answers from Orlando on

Wow, I am so surprised in the amount of advice that leads to diagnosis and medication, REALLY?? It sounds like your daughter just wants attention! Social cues are most often taught and not always instinctive, and she's 12! My daughter is 3 and does all of those things, except bringing back old conversations at the wrong time; which is called cutting someone off because they are bored of current topic and they are being rude; adults do this! From what you wrote, it sounds normal. I would work with her to let her know what is acceptable or not and boundaries etc... Good luck and don't worry so much, she will eventually understand and grow out of this :)


answers from New York on

I don't know much about ADHD, so I am just commenting on what goes on at my house. My daughter (12) and my sister (now 15) where just like that, and I have the feeling I was like that too as my nick as a kid was "Tarabilla" which is somebody that talks none stop, lol.
What you describe is see often at my car;dad is driving I am trying to read, older daughter is looking at my phone and reading jokes, and she will find one that she loves, so she show me, then she would find another one, and another one, then I would tell: "Ok no more", but she just happen to find "the best one yet" so you get the picture.
I am thankful she move on from the "What would you do?" Ohhhhhhh my, even she laugh now about that now. She use to come with the more bizarre, out of not where questions, the worst part is that I could never get it right!
Then it was my sister when at her age she use to follow me like a bee to honey, she would talk and talk and yes, "they don't get it!", but you know what? Last Christmas when she came, she had a boyfriend this time (he stay on Mexico of course). I forgot how a teen is, we barely talk, all she wanted to do is to be stuck in the computer talking to the new boyfriend!!
Like I said, I only know very basic info about ADHD, so I maybe lost, but the examples you post sound like something I see every day at home and I have the feeling is not going to last for to long and soon it will be me chasing her to talk, sigh.
However, no matter what is always good teaching them that everybody needs some time alone.



answers from Portland on

It would be helpful for you to discuss this with a therapist so you can discern what is ADHD and what is NORMAL and what could be medication related. I agree with all the other M.'s who posted before me. The only thing I might add is that I might encourage you to learn more about how to help redirect your daughter. It sounds like you are pretty upset (might be reading more into your post) and making this emotional won't help you or your daughter and might actually cause a barrier in your relationship with her, which is unnecessary. Learn what you can do to redirect her, learn what you can do to calm and center yourself, and every once in awhile, just stop what you are doing and focus on what your daughter is interrupting you about even if it doesn't seem important. Sometimes it is fun to have an unexpected interaction and I am more than sure your daughter will find your embracing response to be very nurturing. Just my two cents, and I'm sure you do this anyways:)

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions