Who is this older gentleman feverishly taking notes, wearing a business suit at the CHADD Conference? I assumed him a physician or school administrator. WRONG! He raises his hand and asks, “How can I be there for my granddaughter to support all her interests. She has so many. I want her to know I care but it’s hard when her interests change daily.” Wow. What a lucky girl his granddaughter is to call this gentleman Grandpa.
In another session, for women with ADHD, many women stood up and shared their struggles with ADHD and what they’ve learned to do to live with more ease. Their honesty, vulnerability, and sense of humor moved me beyond words. Talking about it with each other gives us community, support and understanding. Ladies, we are all stronger when we lean on each other. I urge you to find support in your community or start your own group!
For some at the conference, they would come out of a session and say, “I thought the speaker was talking about me! He described me, my habits, my fears, my goofs, my oops, my need for speed. He even knew of my desires to do more, to do it better, to do it without reminders, to not let others down, to not let myself down. I came here for someone else I care about with ADHD and discovered my own ADHD.”
That first self-diagnosis can leave many unsettled. Not knowing how to tell others. Not wanting judgment. Not knowing what to do next.
I’m grateful for the ADHD community of professionals who work tirelessly to reach others who could really start rocking and rolling in their lives with just a little support.
Mostly, I’m grateful for those who are already stepping up and supporting someone they love living with ADHD.
What can you do when someone shares they suspect or know they’re living with ADHD?
1. Be grateful for them:
You should feel honored someone trusts you to tell you something so personal. Then, tell them you love them and give them a huge hug!
2. Listen to them without judgment.
You don’t like when someone says, “I know how you feel”. They don’t like it either. Ask questions about how they came to this realization. Or ask how it is impacting their life. Sit and listen, free of judgment. This is not the time to share your opinions on ADHD…. if it’s real or you believe in it. It’s not a religion. It’s a bio-neurological fact. Acknowledge their struggle is real, and hard. Do not tell them they are using ADHD as an excuse for not living up to the rest of the world’s expectations. Let them process and think out loud.
3. Acknowledge Them:
Tell them you’re proud of them for deciding to learn more about how ADHD is getting in their way. Acknowledge the courage it takes to ask for help.
4. Ask them what they need:
ADHD is not something you can fix for them. You can be there as a sounding board as they discover new things. Don’t assume you know what they need. Ask, ask, ask!
5. Recognize their Strengths:
For many, an ADHD diagnosis helps them understand why they’ve struggled in the past. Remind them, there is hope for the future. ADHD is not a “new” diagnosis. There are many solutions out there to help make their lives easier. Help them feel good by noticing what they do right, and telling them what you see.