May 19


​Extra Help for ADD & ADHD

It is especially important for people with attention deficits (ADD) and hyperactivity (ADHD) to have help from family and friends. Often, people with these disorders are the last to realize they are “out of sync” with others and need feedback. Until they build internal controls by learning routines and habits, they will need external structure from those who care about them. Mark any strategies below that you would like others to use, or that would help you help your loved one.


Find people who appreciate and understand you and make an effort to stay in touch with them. Don’t stay too long where you’re not wanted. Avoid people who give advice that makes you feel uncomfortable or who refuse to believe in ADD. Find a coach who will help you get organized, stay on task, offer encouragement, signal you if you’re talking too much, or interrupt if you are in hyperfocus. Choose someone who is objective and positive for home, school, or work.

Keep others informed in subtle ways—“I get distracted easily so let me know if I’m getting off the topic,” “I can move around a lot, so tell me if it bothers you.” Learn to joke about yourself without putting yourself down—“I’
m one of those clueless geniuses.” If others demean you, handle it lightly—
“They’ll never let you in the ADD support group if you talk like that.” “I’m trying out for the Albert Einstein award this year.”


As more is learned about ADD, the number of support groups, newsletters, and books for individuals and families grows. Many organizations and books offer important advice on how to advocate for yourself or your child at school or in the workplace:


Sometimes, an accurate diagnosis of ADD and education is all that is needed to manage problems. When behavior strategies or alternative treatments (herbs, diet, or biofeedback) are not helpful, it may be essential to try medication. Stimulants are the drug of choice, they are not addicting for people with ADD and will not remain in a person’s system after being discontinued. Some people can stop using medication as their organizational skills improve; others will continue to need them in adulthood. For the 20% to 25% of people who are not helped by stimulants, certain antidepressants will be effective and are especially important if moodiness is a part of the problem.


Education and coaching to learn behavior strategies and social skills may be more important than counseling for the actual neurological disorder of ADD. However, until it is diagnosed, there may be much damage caused by family and relationship problems, not to mention academic or other trauma. Often, medication will be needed to provide sufficient focus to work through past difficulties. Counselors may need to be directive, as people with ADD can lose track of their therapeutic agenda.

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