You likely know someone who lives with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This condition is most common in childhood but affects people of all ages. Nearly one in 10 children in the United States live with ADHD, and approximately 4.4 percent of adults in the country live with it too.
Even if you know someone with ADHD well, it can be difficult to understand the disorder and how it affects your loved one. Making matters more complicated is the fact that there are many types of ADHD, and people can show different types of symptoms. While each person with ADHD is unique, there are a few things that most people with ADHD wish that the people in their lives knew about the disorder.
1. ADHD is a Clinical Diagnosis, Not a Fleeting Mood
Anyone can go through periods of time in which they feel easily distracted or unusually disorganized. When this happens to a person without ADHD, you may hear them say something like, “I’ve been so ADHD lately.” Even if they mean well, that statement invalidates the chronic struggles of people with ADHD.
ADHD is a real, clinically diagnosed disorder. It has noticeable effects on a person’s brain structure and behaviors. ADHD is not a mood or phase. It does not simply last a few days, weeks, or months. It’s essential not to avoid labeling anyone as “ADHD” in this manner.
2. People with ADHD Can Focus, They Just Do It Differently
Many people describe ADHD symptoms as “being unable to focus.” It’s true that ADHD can make it difficult for a person to concentrate under certain conditions, but there’s more to the disorder than just that. People with ADHD can focus well when they are under pressure or feel interested in the subject.
In fact, patients with ADHD report going into “hyperfocus” moods. At these times, they tune out everything else except the task at hand. While this can be helpful, it can also make it difficult to switch tasks. If you notice that someone with ADHD focuses really well sometimes, you should know that this does not invalidate their diagnosis.
3. ADHD Isn’t All Bad All the Time
It’s true that ADHD is a disorder, meaning that it negatively impacts a person’s life. However, when someone learns how to manage their symptoms, they gain a deeper understanding of their mind and can use it to their advantage. In fact, some people with the condition have described ADHD as a superpower.
For example, people with ADHD often master whatever task, hobby, or job captures their attention. They may struggle at a desk job but thrive in a different environment. Furthermore, people with ADHD sometimes perform particularly well under pressure, making them invaluable assets in some environments.
4. ADHD is Just One Part of a Whole
ADHD is complex and touches nearly every aspect of a person’s life. However, no disorder or condition can be big enough to define someone. ADHD is just one part of what makes a person who they are. People with ADHD and everyone in their support systems must consciously recognize the other parts of a person’s identity.
5. Social Support is Essential
Like all people, individuals with ADHD need empathy, understanding, and support from their loved ones. At times, you may struggle to understand why your loved one with ADHD behaves a certain way. You may find it hard to get why they are chronically late or have poor impulse control. In fact, even people with ADHD may find it hard to understand these things.
It’s absolutely vital for loved ones to try to support people with ADHD in spite of these struggles. The most helpful things you can do for your loved one with ADHD are:
- Learn what you can about ADHD
- Practice patience when possible
- Focus on their strengths and positive attributes
- Enjoy the differences between you
These steps can help build the person’s confidence and aid them in their mental health journey.