Therapist for 8yr old w/ ADHD-related difficulty making friends?

We are looking for a therapist who can help our son with his difficulty forming and maintaining social connections with his peers.

Our 8yr old son was diagnosed with ADHD during kindergarten and is now in the 3rd grade. Since then he has had virtual therapy as well as in-person group OT. He has not had therapy since he summer when his therapist stopped seeing patients after having a child. 

his inability to fit in with peers (and their subsequent treatment of him) has contributed to developing a negative self-image and some counter-productive coping mechanisms that reinforce his experience of ‘nobody wants to play with me.’ however      should add that he is also dealing with a recent move and fresh separation of his parents. 

He is in a very supportive school with a team of teachers and staff in communication with us and helping to support him in various ways. While in-the-moment guidance is helpful, there are understandable limits to the time and attention dedicated to these efforts by the school. Likewise, while his weekly group OT therapy sessions have been productive, they lack the effectiveness that individualized and more comprehensive one-on-one sessions could provide.

We are currently traveling to Concord for his weekly OT, which is a bit disruptive schedule-wise. Our preference is to find somebody in the Berkeley/Oakland area, but the Orinda/Lafayette/Walnut creek area is not out of the question.  

On a related but non-contributing note, I have to say it is incredibly heart aching to see my son endure this. The fact that I had and weathered very similar experiences as a child and young adult certainly helps me to relate with him and provide helpful perspective and advice, however it also brings heightened awareness of his suffering and disparaging outlook - especially when I know him to be such a bright, sensitive, and caring human. 

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It is really good that you have a diagnosis at age 8, and he has had individual and group therapy.  I read your last paragraph, and around age 15 my son who also has ADHD and had trouble making friends, said to me, "Mom, why did no one like me?".  So I understand your mother's heartache.  I just give you kudos for being in there getting your son help.  A resource that helped me (I wish I had found it years earlier), is   It's free and has a lot of good explanations and suggestions.

Hi there,

I hope you can find a good therapist for your son.  If you're ever interested in a playdate, I have a 6 year old first grader who is high energy and has some impulse control/affect regulation issues.  This has impacted his ability to have friends.  He would love to have more friends and playdates.  We are in North Berkeley and he goes to school in Albany.  Let me know if you might be interested in a playdate.  I also have 10 and 11 year old girls who might join. 

My 4-year-old daughter, with sensory processing disorder, is doing weekly individual OT sessions with Full Circle. They usually have a waiting list but it paid off to get on the list and keep following up. The individual sessions have helped her tremendously. Feel free to message me directly if you want the name of the occupational therapist. 

Not a therapist but your child should absolutely consider joining a social skills group with Shelly at Think Social East Bay. She is a speech language pathologist but she specializes in teaching social skills to kids who don't pick them up naturally. Bonus is that most kids think her groups are fun and want to go. She was a life changer for our ADHD kid with poor social skills as a result.


Your son is lucky to have you.  I have a neurodivergent toddler and so this is definitely one of my fears.  Other parents have recommended this book about making friends, which is geared towards kids your son's age (I just bookmarked it for a potential future need).  Growing Friendships: A Kids' Guide to Making and Keeping Friends

You might also search for this same issue in some of the parenting subreddits on Reddit as this question comes up from time to time.  Often the advice is to get your kid involved in activities outside of school (sports, but also chess, D&D, scouts, rock climbing, music, etc.).  

+1 to Shelly Hansen and Think Social.  Stacy outten is an excellent therapist in the east bay who specializes in neurodivergent kids and is making a world of difference in helping my kid.  Hang in there. You're doing great in getting your kid all the help he needs.  


Our 8-year old son just spend 6 months in therapy with Dr. Sam Kaplan (, whom we'd highly recommend. Our son had various issues in school - he was beginning to leave class at random times without permission, wouldn't verbally express almost anything about school, and didn't seem to be connecting deeply with anyone at school (teachers and students alike) along with expressing feelings of loneliness and disconnection. This along with some unresolved issues, unrelated to school behavior, led us to seek support via therapy. 

Sam embraced our son's natural strengths and unique qualities and helped to bring out a really different side of him through play and connection. He was very communicative and transparent with us about his observations and reflections via email between our sessions. As parents, we joined many of the sessions, talking together about what was and wasn't working for our son, and building stronger communication with our son. We have seen major improvements in our son's behavior and mindset, and I draw on our conversations from therapy almost daily. I believe that therapy helped us to cope with our heartbreak at his discomfort and with our own parenting challenges, as much as it helped our son to have a safe and special space to talk through his challenges and reflections.

I hope you find the support (nearby!) that you're looking for soon.