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Seeing the Best in People With ADHD

If you have ADHD, you’ve probably found that some people are more accepting of your ADHD symptoms than others.

What sets people who are more accepting of ADHDers apart? Knowledge of ADHD certainly helps. One of the things we hope to accomplish by spreading ADHD awareness is making society more accepting of ADHDers.

Interestingly, though, someone can be accepting of ADHDers without knowing anything about ADHD. Some people seem to be capable of naturally seeing past ADHD symptoms and understanding what ADHDers have to offer, without having any book knowledge about ADHD symptoms.

Magnifying GlassMaybe you had a teacher who recognized and nurtured your strengths despite all the ways you weren’t a perfect student. That teacher saw the passion, focus and creativity you could bring on projects that caught your attention, even if your binder was a disorganized mess and you often rushed through your homework at the last minute or even forgot to do it altogether.

Or you had a parent who always kept their faith in you, supporting your talents and strengths regardless of the fact that a traditional classroom environment wasn’t a good fit for you. Later on, maybe you met a close friend or a partner who was surprisingly, refreshingly unbothered by your ADHD-related “quirks.”

Why is it that some people are able to accept ADHDers for who they are, without any special training in mental health or ADHD? I think part of it comes down to being able to see the best in people with ADHD.

With ADHDers, there’s a lot of room to interpret their behaviors, or to ascribe positive or negative intentions to their actions – especially if you don’t know much about ADHD.

When it comes to symptoms like inattention, disorganization, failing to plan ahead, procrastination, and so on, you can jump to the conclusion that these symptoms are coming from a place of not caring and not trying hard enough. But you don’t have to, and people who are naturally accepting of ADHDers don’t jump to that conclusion.

People with ADHD tend to be highly inconsistent in their performance, hyperfocusing on certain projects and thriving in specific environments, but also underachieving and repeatedly failing to get their brains into gear in other settings. So again, there’s room to judge someone with ADHD in different ways – you can judge them by the passion they bring to projects that are a good fit for their brains, or you can judge them by their failures in environments that are at odds with how their brains work.

Those who are able to see the best in ADHDers are more focused on the areas where ADHDers shine. In some cases, it might be because they’re able to see the best in everyone, and in others it might be because they have some intuitive understanding of how the ADHD brain works. Whatever the reason, this ability to appreciate ADHDers for who they are sets them up to be the teachers, coworkers, friends and partners who have a lasting impact on ADHDers’ lives.

Since being diagnosed with ADHD, I’ve made an effort to educate myself about ADHD and mental health in general. But thinking of the people in my life who have been accepting of my ADHD symptoms is a good reminder that textbook knowledge isn’t the only thing that matters: looking for the best in other people is a skill that by itself can go a long way in supporting people with mental health conditions.

Image: Flickr/Flood G.

Seeing the Best in People With ADHD

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). Seeing the Best in People With ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Aug 2019
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