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How to Support a Loved One who suffers from ADHD

How to Support a Loved One who suffers from ADHD

Many families make mistakes when trying to support a loved one who suffers from ADHD. This is due to a misunderstanding in the disorder. There are many people who suffer from ADHD who are extremely intelligent but are doubted and disregarded due to their inability to focus on one particular task for an extended period of time. According to Robert Olivardia Ph.D, individuals with ADHD “cannot execute what they know they have to do”, rather than not knowing how to do that particular thing. Do not feel guilty for misunderstanding your loved ones ADHD as this article will teach you on how to support them.

Educate Yourself on ADHD

By educating yourself, you are able to understand ADHD. I would suggest reading books such as:

  • More Attention, Less Deficit by Dr. Ari Tuckman
  • Driven to Distraction by Drs. Edward Hallowell and John Ratey
  • Taking Charge of Adult ADHD by Dr. Russell Barkley
  • 10 Simple Solutions to Adult ADD by Dr. Stephanie Sarkis

It is also important to spend time with your ADHD loved one and talk to them about daily life and the frustration and experiences they feel. This will give a practical understanding of ADHD. It is important to be honest with you loved and tell them that you do not understand what ADHD is about. Dr Olivardia recommends saying something along these lines:

 “I do not pretend to know what ADHD is all about. Educate me about your experience so I can better understand how your mind works. I can also educate myself. But I do not have all the answers. I do know that we approach things in a very different way, so it can be difficult to sometimes understand where you are coming from. Please do not confuse my lack of knowledge with judgment.”

educate yourself


It is important to maintain clear communication and empathy with someone who has ADHD. Even something as simple as asking them if they need a lending hand can really take a lot of pressure off your loved ones shoulders. 


Point on Positives

A lot of people who suffer with ADHD suffer from low self-esteem. When your loved one puts themselves down for being late to events, Psychotherapist and ADHD coach recommends saying “Sure, you may have trouble getting to places on time. I understand that. But there’s more to you than that. I envy your talents. You’re such a good _______ (writer, singer, cook, etc).”

Be a body double

If your loved one has a tough time accomplishing tasks, for example, paying bills, offer to do it together with them. So, if your errand day is Saturday, get them to come with you or you go with them and you can run your errands together. 

Avoid being judgemental

A person with ADHD suffers an enormous amount of bullying and name calling in their lifetime. Names like “weirdo, crazy and strange” are what ADHD people have to endure, sometimes on a daily basis. It’s important that you avoid saying these terms or making a person with ADHD feel inferior. Toxic help must be avoided as this too makes a person with ADHD feel inferior. Toxic help is when someone helps you but makes you feel bad in the process, for example, judging a person with ADHD’s house. 

avoid being judgemental

In summary it is important to learn about the disorder, emphasise the strengths of someone with ADHD, do not be judgemental, asking them what they need and participating in tasks alongside them.

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