Do you have no idea how to accompany someone with , or do you feel like you’ve run out of resources? Treating him with empathy and respect, just like anyone else, comes first.
“Don’t act like a jerk and you’ll have done 90 percent of the hard work,” says Neil Petersen, a Bachelor of Arts diagnosed with ADHD when he began college. Neil writes articles about education, learning disorders, and technology, and aspires to help create an education system that can better serve students with ADHD. In addition, he wrote 5 ways to support someone with ADHD, to give us an extra hand:
It is easy for those who do not have ADHD to see their symptoms as laziness, character defects, or lack of care. Don’t jump to conclusions when they do things that can be explained by their struggle with inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Don’t take their symptoms as a reflection of their character.
Generally, you are not expected to have much, even basic, knowledge about ADHD. Asking why someone with ADHD behaves in this or that way or how certain symptoms affect them can show them that you are genuinely interested in understanding how this disorder affects their lives. Of course this depends on each one.
When we empathize with someone, it is natural that we want to talk about similar experiences we have had. Many ADHD symptoms resemble the moments of disorganization, inattention, procrastination, etc. that anyone has sometimes, so when a person with ADHD talks about their symptoms, it can be tempting to say “It happens to me too.”
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But if you don’t have ADHD, you probably No pass you. In ADHD these symptoms are more frequent, harmful and difficult to control. No matter how well-intentioned it is to say “I have that too,” it ends up trivializing a mental health disorder.
Ultimately, the best way to support someone with ADHD (if you don’t have ADHD) is to understand that what they experience is different from what you experience, and that you probably can’t understand all of their experiences by referencing your own.
Unless you have medical or mental health training, you probably don’t know as much about ADHD as most people with ADHD. And even if you have training, that doesn’t mean you necessarily understand firsthand the experience of living with ADHD. And it’s completely acceptable for you to know little or nothing about ADHD, just don’t claim to be an expert.
Don’t be desperate to give advice or share your thoughts on an article you once read about ADHD. They confront their symptoms constantly, so chances are they’ve already thought or heard about all the basic organizational strategies you think can solve their problems. If you have advice on how to manage symptoms make sure it’s things they don’t really know about, like a new organizational app that just came out, or really creative coping strategies.
People with ADHD struggle with self-motivation and self-discipline, especially when it comes to tasks they are not very enthusiastic about (such as cleaning the house or doing work things). These things tend to be put aside for too long, but doing them with other people can make them more tolerable.
This is a basic list of ways to support someone with ADHD, and there are surely many more things, big and small, that can be done. If you have anything to add, please comment so we can continue learning and helping each other.