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How to Help Family or Friends Understand ADHD

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We all have our story of how we learned to understand our ADHD diagnosis, but what about those around us? Instead of being in our shoes and experiencing ADHD firsthand, our friends and families are looking at ADHD through a window and they may not understand its nuances and how it affects our day-to-day lives.

“ADHD is complicated, and if you don’t understand the full scope of how it affects your brain, daily routine, and overall wellbeing, it can be difficult to wrap your mind around,” said Dr. Raafia Muhammad, Clinical Division Chief at ADHD Online. “It can also be difficult for family and friends to support those who have been diagnosed with ADHD if they don’t understand it. It’s important that our loved ones have a well-rounded understanding of ADHD, and often, that may take some time and effort.”

What can you do to help others understand ADHD? Dr. Muhammad suggests being honest, inviting others to learn about your experience, and practicing patience with each other. 

  1. Don’t be afraid to share facts about ADHD. Whether it’s how ADHD affects your daily routine or demonstrating your overall knowledge of the diagnosis, sharing what you know will help others understand ADHD better, little by little. 
  2. If you’re comfortable, invite trusted loved ones to a doctor or therapy appointment with you. Only if you are comfortable and willing to do so, inviting a close family or friends to talk with your doctor and therapist can help them learn what ADHD is from a medical point of view. Plus, it can help them understand your specific diagnosis, coping mechanism, and treatment plan. 
  3. Acknowledge how ADHD affects your brain. Verbalizing and normalizing your ADHD diagnosis can help others understand how it affects they ways you think and behave. This can be a daunting process at first, but it also can give your loved ones an opportunity to be supportive and better understand the way you think. 
  4. Be honest, positive, and respectful towards yourself. We encourage you to be honest and mindful with the way you characterize yourself when it comes to your symptoms and how they affect those around you. Talk with family and friends and share with them how you feel, when you feel it, and how you may react. Make sure that you aren’t too hard on yourself, and don’t put yourself down when anxiety strikes or your ADHD manifests itself. Being honest, positive, and respectful with the way you think and behave is a great step in helping those around you understand ADHD. 

Overall, remember that everyone learns at different rates, so be patient with those around you and encourage them to be patient with you. Navigating ADHD with friends and family can be a journey, but when it comes to those that you love, there’s always a path forward for mutual understanding. 

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