Communicating your ADHD to someone without it can seem difficult. Really, the only way for them to fully understand would be for them to live a lifetime in your shoes. Since that's not an option, we have to settle for other strategies to close the gap in understanding.
In the hopes of starting some conversations this month, we want to share with you a strategy you might use in your next conversation where your ADHD is brought up. This strategy involves just a bit of pre-thought, a statement of fact and the communication of a personal solution.
Here are the steps further explained:
In a situation where ADHD might be discussed whether brought about by the circumstance, proactively by yourself or in answering someones question, it helps to first think about the context. ADHD is in many ways all encompassing and multi-sided, so narrowing down the symptom at play in the particular situation will help you make a fantastic and straight-forward statement that you feel confident in.
In this example situation, a person might have been 15 minutes late to lunch with a good friend. The person, reflecting as they made their way to lunch, knows that it was their time-blindness at the root of the problem, they started 1 more episode of Squid Game thinking they'd remember to pause half way through.
Upon arrival, we can of course assume that many apologies have already been issued. Taking in their surroundings and the mood of their friend, this person, thinking about the strategy they learned, asks themselves: "Is this the right time, environment and person to bring up my ADHD?"
It's ADHD Awareness Month, they're in the back of the restaurant away from most other people and this is their best friend of 10 years. They decide yes, so they begin to make their statement.
First by presenting the facts based on the situation: "I have ADHD and that can make visualizing time very difficult for me, leading to me being late often, even to things I really want to be on time for."
And second by providing a personal solution: "I am aware of this and am taking steps often to counteract it, I use certain tools to help with transitioning and timing out my tasks appropriately."
In this particular made up scenario, the conversation then went extremely well. Their friend was receptive and appreciative that they chose to share this information and even asked a few more questions.
To recap here is the summarized structure of this strategy:
- Think on what symptom of your ADHD is at play in the particular situation.
- Think on if this is the right time, person and environment?
- If yes to the above question, make a statement.
- Start your statement off with a fact, clearly stating you have ADHD and that can lead to a specific symptom.
- End off that statement with your personal solution to show you are taking responsibility, which could be anything you use or have used to try and help.
In the end, you have only communicated your ADHD when you have felt comfortable in doing so. If you provide a fact and a personal solution so as to take responsibility and promote a solution and the other person takes that in any other way than you trying to positively communicate something that impacts your life, that is NOT your problem.
No matter what they say, positive or negative, you can feel comfortable knowing you understand ADHD better than they ever could and you are trying your best.