I’ve seen many different reactions from adults with ADD and ADHD. The two most common emotions are relief and anger. I get asked by many of my adult clients when is a good time to tell someone about ADD and ADHD and how should we do it. There is no simple answer to these questions.
Let’s face it, our culture’s understanding of ADD/ADHD has grown over the last decade or so. When I was diagnosed over 30-years ago, some people considered me mentally retarded. Today, having ADD/ADHD is like needing glasses. But there are still those that don’t buy into the whole ADD/ADHD diagnosis. Many of my adult clients fear being labeled. It’s certainly fair. As I tell all of my clients, we can only control how we feel and react to a situation. Other individuals will react the way they want to react. We don’t have any control over the reactions of others.
Keeping that in mind, here’s what I advise my clients to do…
- Set up a specific time to talk with the individual you’d like to tell. Be prepared with some facts about ADD/ADHD. Don’t spring this news on anyone. It’s better to prepare yourself mentally and give the other person an opportunity to dialogue about your situation.
- Prepare yourself for different types of reactions. People will react in different ways, so don’t be caught off-guard. If someone doesn’t react with sympathy, that’s his or her problem. Just stay focused on your message.
- After letting someone know, don’t start using the I have ADHD card. While it may be the truth, it makes you seem like your taking less ownership of your mishaps. We live in a result-based world, so produce results. Don’t produce excuses.
Following up on my last statement, that is ultimately what gets almost all of my clients into trouble. It’s not so much the ADD/ADHD moments, it’s the excuses. I hear too many times it’s not my faultfrom my clients. That reinforces many people’s preconceived negative notions about ADD/ADHD. Take ownership of your mistakes. It’s OK, it happens to the best of us. Individuals with ADD/ADHD often struggle from actually trying too hard. We want to be perfect, so in the process of attempting perfection, we almost become worse. Our efforts are focused in the wrong ways. By accepting that we’re not perfect and we will make mistakes is a HUGE step in the process. Remember, it still doesn’t mean that others are going to accept our faults, but it does mean that the person with ADD/ADHD identifies an area of concern and addresses it. That, my friends, is how we begin the growth process.
For more information on my ADD, ADHD and Executive Functioning coaching, please visit www.adhdcoachchicago.com. To learn more information about some of the other services I provide, please visit www.carrolleducationalgroup.com and www.iepexperts.com. I can be found on Twitter at ADHDEFCoach. You can also find me on Facebook and Tumblr. My good friend and fellow ADD/ADHD Coach Tara McGillicuddy invites me as a regular guest on ADD/ADHD Support Talk Radio. Tara does many wonderful things and you should check out her website here. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 773.888.ADHD (2343) with any additional questions.