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Have Trouble Explaining Your ADHD? Write It Down!

Verbal explanations can be unpredictable, even more so when given by ADHDers. It’s hard to organize information about complex, nuanced topics in the moment while you’re talking. And it’s all too easy for verbal explanations to go off on tangents or come out in an unplanned, rambling way that doesn’t emphasize the most important points.

People with ADHD sometimes encounter this problem when we find ourselves trying to explain ADHD to other people. Commonly, this happens when trying to explain ADHD symptoms to friends or family.

ExplainingIt’s also something that’s intimidating about scheduling an appointment with a mental health professional to be evaluated for ADHD: how do I summarize the huge topic of what’s going on with my life and why I’ve sought out mental health treatment, to someone who doesn’t know me and who’s working on a schedule?

As a blogger, my answer is that it can really help to write this stuff down. Writing gives you a chance to reflect on what you’re trying to express, and how to organize your thoughts in a way that gets your point across.

Writing down how your symptoms affect your life can be helpful in the situations I highlighted above. When it comes to explaining ADHD to your friends or family, writing down your experience and sharing what you’ve written can help communicate what you want people to know about ADHD.

Appointments with therapists and psychiatrists happen face-to-face, but writing down your experience can play an important role. It can be helpful to go into appointments, especially a first appointment, having written down some of what you want to address.

How exactly you use this writing is up to you. You can just show it to your doctor or read it verbatim, or you can treat it as very detailed notes for what you want to say verbally. The point is to organize your thoughts beforehand so you don’t walk away from your appointment feeling like you never really got your point across.

Sometimes I think of this when I see people write long comments or forum posts in which they eloquently explain their ADHD symptoms, and then they say “how do I bring this all up with my doctor?” The answer, in this case, is: just show them what you’ve written!

Image: Flickr/Gangplank HQ

Have Trouble Explaining Your ADHD? Write It Down!

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on psychology, ADHD and education. In addition to ADHD Millennial, he writes about psychology at Psych Central's AllPsych blog and about ADHD at He can be found on Twitter at @ADaptHD_blog

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2019). Have Trouble Explaining Your ADHD? Write It Down!. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2020, from


Last updated: 4 Jul 2019
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