Learning how to support a loved one with ADHD can be challenging. Here are some tips.
When most people think of ADHD, they imagine little boys with “excessive energy” who can't focus in school. While this is one form that ADHD may take, there are as many different types of ADHD as there are people afflicted by it. This misconception makes it more difficult for some people to get diagnosed because their symptoms often go unnoticed until later in life.
Supporting a loved one with ADHD can be challenging, especially when they are struggling to manage their symptoms. It's important that you know the best way to offer support and how your actions might impact them if it seems like there is something wrong.
For example, a simple way to offer support is to recognize when something is off: “I am sorry I didn't notice what happened last night.” Or “It sounds like work has been really stressful lately; maybe we could talk after dinner?” These types of questions or comments show empathy without making promises.
Fortunately, there are several treatments and resources available for individuals with ADHD and their families.
What is ADHD?
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common behavioral condition that affects 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults worldwide. It is defined by issues with attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. These symptoms can cause problems at school, at work, and in social relationships.
Those with ADHD are frequently disorganized, ineffective, and forgetful. I mean, there's a blog called Black Girl, Lost Keys – and it's all about living with ADHD!
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a complicated condition that may be challenging to diagnose. Not every symptom applies to each person, and not everyone experiences the symptoms in the same way. People with ADHD might also have associated problems such as anxiety or depression. This can make it difficult to identify and treat ADHD.
This is especially true for girls. Girls with ADHD often go unnoticed. They are treated as flighty or silly because they're forgetful and lose things. Girls typically don't “act out” in school, which is why they go undiagnosed. More and more women are getting this diagnosis as adults and are re-learning to navigate their world with this new knowledge.
What does ADHD look like?
The symptoms of ADHD are often difficult to detect since they vary from person to person so much. They may also be tough to separate from other mental illnesses or mundane “quirks.” There are, however, certain major indicators that point to someone having ADHD.
Inattention: Daily life may be more difficult than usual for your loved one. They might have trouble focusing on conversations, following directions, or completing tasks. They could also appear to be daydreaming or zoning out frequently.
Hyperactivity: Restlessness, fidgeting, and tapping are all common symptoms of hyperactivity. People with ADHD frequently have a desire to be active or communicate. It might be difficult for them to sit still for lengthy periods of time, such as during a movie or lecture.
Impulsivity: Your loved one may frequently give responses before others have finished asking a question. Their replies are often immediate and without hesitation. They may also have a hard time waiting their turn, or you notice that they are constantly interrupting conversations.
Disorganization: This can take many forms from having a messy room to always being late to forgetting to do important tasks. Someone who struggles with disorganization can't track typical life activities, such as homework or eating at regular intervals. They often repeat, “I forgot.”
Difficulty completing tasks: This can manifest as wanting to start projects but never finishing them, putting things off, or feeling overwhelmed by basic chores. Many people with ADHD start new hobbies only to abandon them a few days or weeks later—sometimes without ever completing a project.
If you notice any of the following in yourself or a loved one, it may be time to talk to a doctor or mental health professional about ADHD.
What can I do to support someone with ADHD?
Every individual with ADHD experiences a distinct set of symptoms, but there are a number of basic things you can do to help your loved one. The first step to supporting a loved one with ADHD is to understand what they face on a daily basis may be really beneficial in increasing empathy and compassion for them.
Learn about ADHD
Taking the time to learn about ADHD will allow you to have a better understanding of how it is affecting your loved one's daily life and how you may assist. There are many complexities to this condition, so it's not easy to grasp without doing some study. Keep in mind that everyone with ADHD is different; therefore, what is true for one person may not be true for another.
Patience is Key
Living with or loving someone who has ADHD can test your patience. You might find yourself asking them to accomplish the same things many times, or feeling like you're always doing everything for them. It's critical to try to stay patient and realize that it isn't intentional on the part of the person with ADHD.
This does not imply that you should enable their behavior, but rather that you should try to have compassion for them and realize that they are working as hard as they can..
Offer Emotional Support
People with ADHD often feel overwhelmed by life. They also might feel hopeless because no matter how hard they try, they just don't feel good enough because they're not like everyone else. It can take a heavy toll on their emotional wellbeing.
When they need to get something off their chest or want someone to talk with, be there for them. Offering your support and compassion might make a world of difference in their life..
Help with Creating Systems and Routines
It's vital to provide general emotional support, but it's also essential to establish a more tangible system. This might involve assisting your loved one in developing a daily routine or keeping track of important dates and appointments.
Routines and schedules are crucial for people with ADHD; however, they typically have a hard time creating schedules and remembering to set reminders for themselves. Setting reminders on your phone to remind your friend or family member about events and appointments can be beneficial.
Sending additional reminders to help them track what they need to remember can cause some friction—especially with teenagers. Get used to hearing, “I KNOW!” far more often than you'd like. Often, our loved ones want to feel in control and your additional reminders make them feel as if they are not.
Discuss this with them when they are calm and not in the midst of a crisis (like running late). They usually know the reminders are helpful. But sometimes, to them it feels like you are micromanaging them or babysitting them.
And when they screw up, which they inevitably will do, don't be condescending with an “I told you so” attitude. That's not helpful and will make them feel worse.
You can even help them identify their triggers and brainstorm coping strategies for when they are feeling overwhelmed. It can be helpful to have these things written down so that both of you can refer to them when needed.
Using a buddy system, or body doubling, is a fantastic method to provide assistance to people with ADHD who have trouble starting or finishing tasks while requiring little effort. Many people benefit from having another person in the room while they're attempting to focus on a project or task.
This might involve working together or studying, cleaning their rooms together, or even being fitness buddies. Often, you don't even have to participate in the task—just having someone there is enough of a prompt to help them focus.
If you can't be around, tell them about FocusMate. It's free for three sessions a month, or $5/month for unlimited sessions, and it is the golden goose of body doubling!
Movement is Important
People with ADHD frequently have low dopamine levels in their brains, and getting some exercise can help to boost these levels. It doesn't even have to be a comprehensive workout; simply getting some activity into their daily routine may improve attention and focus significantly.
If your loved one struggles with hyperactivity, this is especially necessary. They need movement. They can't focus without burning off some excess energy. Offer to join them on a walk around the neighborhood, or to the park. It doesn't have to be strenuous!
If you're concerned about your loved one's ADHD, urge them to get help. A variety of treatments are available including medication and therapy.
There are a variety of treatment choices available, and it might be useful to test out several before deciding on the one that's best for you. It's also vital to remember that therapy is not a one-time event. In order to control symptoms, it's often necessary to undergo treatment over time.
If you're not sure where to begin, suggest that your loved one discuss treatment alternatives with their doctor or mental health professional. Many online options are now available.
Is there a cure for ADHD?
There is no cure for ADHD, but it is possible to live a full and happy life while dealing with its symptoms. People with ADHD may have successful lives if they get the right treatment and assistance.
If you are concerned about your loved one's ADHD, talk to them about it. It may make a significant difference in their life if you express your support and understanding.
Living with ADHD is difficult for both the person who has it and their loved ones. However, there are ways to make life easier for everyone involved. With understanding, patience, and love, families can learn to cope with ADHD and help their loved one live a happy and productive life.
Have you ever supported someone living with ADHD? If so, what strategies worked best for you? Let us know in the comments below.