On several occasions I’ve been asked how people should deal with loved ones who have ADHD.
My knee jerk reaction is to ask how we’re supposed to deal with people who don’t.
But I’ve grown to realize that knee jerk reactions are never a good go to plan. So even though I’m a spontaneous and impetuous kind of guy (I wonder where that comes from?) I try to always live by the idea that I need to respond, and not react.
And to do that …
It’s always easier to respond if I already know what my answer should be.
And over the last few years I’ve had time to think this through and I’m pretty happy with what I’ve come up with.
How to survive someone’s ADHD
At first I thought to myself, “Just deal with it!?” … but that’s not very helpful.
And I realized that if I’m being asked this question, the person asking is genuinely interested on how to be with someone with ADHD, be it as a friend or a partner or a co-worker.
And that’s a great start toward success.
But yes, it’s a start, it isn’t enough.
So I keep the “just deal” stuff to myself, and I start asking questions.
What aspect of ADHD is most complicating your relationship? What about that aspect is upsetting you most? What would make it better or easier to deal with?
It turns out …
Often people know exactly what they are having issues with. And often the real problem is that they don’t understand why the symptom or behavior exists.
So often when they educate themselves about it, they find it easier to accept the issue.
The laundry wasn’t left undone because the person doesn’t care, it was because the twenty other distracting things looked like they might be important, maybe to you.
The kids were picked up late because time doesn’t feel the same to people with ADHD as it does to people without, not because the kids aren’t important.
There are some things that are harder to explain.
I can get more work done if there is music playing in the background, but not if there is talking.
I can have a conversation with you that jumps around to three or more different topics and I can keep all those conversations going, but I can’t talk to you as easily in a crowd where I can’t focus on just your words.
So the short answer …
Deal with it, is actually right, but since you’re asking, since you care, I’m happy to help you figure that out.
And the truth is, that the best way to figure it out is to start by asking how.
So congratulations on taking the first and biggest step.
Let’s work through this together, shall we?