Relational Challenges of ADHD
October is ADHD Awareness Month, and during this time it is important to better understand the individuals in your life who have ADHD. Although the symptoms of ADHD may not be overtly apparent when interacting with someone, knowing the relational challenges of ADHD can help you better care for and connect with those around you.
The symptoms of ADHD can be categorized into three main areas: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. All three of these carry their own relational challenges.
Inattention – Individuals with ADHD struggle to concentrate and may struggle with memory. Often, it appears that they are not listening as it is difficult for them to stay attentive during a conversation. Individuals with ADHD also may struggle to remember what was discussed, making the other person believe that they didn’t listen or didn’t care about the conversation.
Hyperactivity – Individuals with ADHD may struggle to sit still, making relational interactions difficult. This hyperactivity may also make it difficult to finish tasks that require being in one place for an extended amount of time, such as eating meals with people.
Impulsivity – Those with ADHD often act impulsively based on their emotions. This can lead to saying things “in the heat of the moment” that they later regret, talking excessively, and blurting out answers. Another communication challenge prominent in those with ADHD is interrupting others during conversation due to being easily distracted and impulsive.
Children and adults with ADHD may isolate themselves from social situations as they realize the impact these symptoms have on interpersonal relationships. Isolation can also become an escape from the anxiety and stress of communicating with those who don’t understand ADHD. Many with ADHD feel misunderstood. These relational challenges can lead to disconnection from parents and distress in friendships and intimate relationships.
Despite these challenges, as Mary wrote in the previous blog post, there are many gifts that those with ADHD have and share with those around them. Individuals with ADHD are often adventurous, creative, and supportive and bring these gifts into the lives of their friends and family. So how do these relationships improve? Simply having this knowledge and seeing things from another individual’s perspective will improve your relationships greatly. Now that you have this knowledge, I hope that you learn to be patient and communicate more effectively with the individuals around you that have ADHD. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Try communicating in new ways – go on walks while you talk, repeat yourself if they miss something, write things down that are important to remember. And above all, put yourself in their shoes. This can help take away some of the frustration and anger that may occur when communication is difficult. If you have ADHD, it may be helpful to share some of these relational challenges with those close to you. Having a better understanding will lead to better and more effective communication.
If you have ADHD and want help navigating how to improve your relationships with others, or need help in any other areas of your life, please contact us at 980-272-8180 (North Charlotte) or 704-443-8866 (Matthews). We’d love to help you on your journey!
– Jessica Winebarger, LPCA