What Adults with ADD Would Like Their Friends, Relatives, and Significant Others to Know
by Melinda White, MFT
There has been a great deal
written describing ADD and appropriate treatment methods. There
is very little published, however, that deals with the day to day emotional
issues that adults with attention deficits face as they try to explain
themselves to important people in their lives. Many adults with this condition
feel misunderstood and blamed when they are honest about their symptoms
to significant others. They often feel discounted when others minimize
their experiences by telling them everyone has ADD traits sometimes.
While it is true that many adults
may have ADD characteristics to some degree, the traits of ADD are more
intense and pervasive for an adult with this condition. It is the intensity
and frequency of these symptoms that make living with attention deficit
disorder unlike anything others encounter on a daily basis.
Adults with ADD would like others
to be aware of the following:
1. When I don't complete
a task I've told you I'd do, it's not because I don't care about you and
it's not that I am intentionally avoiding it. I get
distracted by stimuli in the environment and often just forget. I do this
with things I want to accomplish for me as well. Please don't take it personally.
2. I agree that I shouldn't
use my ADD as an excuse for not completing things.
am trying to find the right strategies to help me become more productive.
Please be patient with me and realize that I need to find the method that
best suits me.
3. When I say I will do
something, I need to be given the freedom to do it my own unique way. My
way may not make sense to you but I need you to respect my differences
and accept them as part of me.
4. I may be easily overstimulated
by noises, lights, or crowded places. Shopping trips,
parties, large social or business gatherings may overwhelm me and I might
need to retreat to regain my equilibrium.
5. A full day of work or
school may leave me feeling spent. I often need some
"down time" alone to recharge my batteries. This doesn't mean I don't appreciate
having you around. I am able to be more receptive to you once I've had
some uninterrupted time doing whatever helps me unwind.
6. I sometimes say the
first thing that pops into my mind without stopping to think how it may
affect you. I don't mean to hurt your feelings. My
filter for screening my thoughts isn't as well developed as I'd like it
to be. Please let me know in a kind way if I offend you. It isn't my intention
to do so.
7. I have developed the
habit of saying yes to requests without really thinking through whether
I can or want to do them. I am learning to say no
when that is the best answer, yet this is difficult for me. After years
of being criticized by parents, teachers, and partners I learned to say
yes to get them off my back. This was easier than admitting I had no idea
if I could or would actually do what I'd said. This list is not meant to be all-inclusive,
nor will each component apply to every adult with ADD. Each adult is unique
in how he or she is affected by ADD. Certain characteristics will apply
to a large extent for some people and minimally or not at all for others.
Each adult will also be shaped by the amount of support and acceptance
or criticism and rejection he or she has felt in growing up with ADD.
(c) 1999, by Melinda White, M.A.