Finding ways to support someone with ADHD is important not just for their personal happiness and well-being, but also for the future of your relationship. ADHD can strain relationships, particularly romantic partnerships, so being proactive in combating that potential strain is a good way to maintain a close bond and grow together in a healthy way. Here are some of the top tips for supporting someone with ADHD.
Study Up on ADHD
Try to avoid saddling your loved one with explaining ADHD to you. While it's great to show interest in their personal experiences and feelings, there's a lot of information about the disorder itself that you are perfectly capable of learning on your own. Plus, taking the initiative to educate yourself about ADHD is a thoughtful way to show someone that you care about them and their needs.
For example, did you know that there are three types of ADHD? Do you know which one your loved one has? Not all people experience ADHD in the same way, so taking time to understand these nuances can help you to better support them.
Reading about the different symptoms of ADHD is a great place to start. From there, you can dive more deeply into the other types of challenges that people with the disorder often face, like comorbid conditions (such as depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder) and ADHD stigma. This type of research is important for understanding your loved one more deeply.
Provide Positive Reinforcement
As you learn more about ADHD, you'll discover that issues with low self-esteem are common for people with this disorder. In many cases, this may be related to the judgements and criticism they've faced as a result of their ADHD behaviors. One way to help someone with ADHD see themselves in a more positive light is to focus on the positive in your communication with them.
Take note of the things they excel at and provide praise for their strengths and talents. Validate them when they're feeling unsure, and provide positive reinforcement when they do something you appreciate.
That doesn't mean that you can never get frustrated with them or disagree. But when these issues arise, it can help to avoid negative feedback and try to work through things together as a team. Instead of reprimanding them after they lost their keys for a third time this year, offer to find a solution that will help them keep track of their belongings. This can help them to feel empowered rather than as though they're a burden, and it can build their self-confidence when the solutions you come up with together are effective.
Find a System That Works
Speaking of coming up with solutions, another great way to support someone with ADHD is to help them stay on top of things. People with this disorder often have trouble staying organized. They may accumulate excess clutter and lose track of their belongings. This problem also extends to their planning capabilities, like having trouble remembering important appointments or deadlines.
Look for ways to ease those struggles for them by coming up with an organizational system that works. In your household, you could keep a large, color-coded calendar on the wall rather than a small planner to make sure important events are easy to note each day. You could designate one area of the home for clutter that can be sorted later so it doesn't pile up in random places.
Creating a daily routine (and sticking to it) can also help to ease their symptoms and boost productivity. Many people with ADHD thrive with a good routine, and you can apply this to many different areas of life. For example, if meal planning is overwhelming for them, you can simplify things by assigning certain meals to each day of the week (taco Tuesdays, pasta Fridays, etc.) and splitting up who grocery shops and who cooks.
Figure Out the Best Way to Communicate
When someone has ADHD, they may find that certain forms of communication are more difficult to take in than others. They might have trouble staying on topic or feel fidgety during longer conversations, for example. While they may remember the broad strokes of a story you told, they might forget the details.
Once you know which modes of communication are taxing for your loved one, try to come up with possible solutions that help you connect more effectively. If they tend to feel restless, try having an important conversation while on a walk together. If they have trouble remembering details, ask them to repeat something back to you to make sure they heard.
Figure out what works in your relationship to ensure that ADHD doesn't get in the way of communicating. And don't forget to listen along the way. Sometimes, one of the best things you can do is to provide a safe place where they can talk about their challenges and frustrations without judgment.
Help Them Get Treatment
Treatment is the best way to manage ADHD on a day-to-day basis. However, keeping up with a treatment plan could be a challenge for your loved one. Within six months of getting a prescription for ADHD medication, 60% of adults with ADHD are no longer compliant with their treatment.
If you want to provide support in this area, you can help your loved one make appointments or refill their prescription. You can set reminders to take medication at certain times or get them a weekly pill organizer. You could drive them to therapy appointments or ADHD support groups.
Introducing someone to helpful resources is another way to support them, so consider encouraging your loved one to try Done. Our convenient telehealth platform removes many of the barriers to effective, personalized ADHD treatment and streamlines the process of prescription refills. With support from you and Done, your loved one can live a happier and more fulfilling life.