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Helping Someone with ADHD

Helping Someone with ADHDAttention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) comes in many forms. How it affects a person may vary widely from a minor inconvenience to a major, life-altering condition that impacts their routines, school, or work every day. While it’s challenging for them to cope with it, it can also be challenging for friends and family in their lives.

If you realize you are having a hard time with your child who has ADHD because you have similar symptoms, consider seeking appropriate evaluation and possible treatment for yourself. You cannot be of as much help to others if you’re not first taking care of yourself and receiving treatment for your own symptoms.

Is your spouse with ADHD disorganized or forgetful? Do they leave big messes around or regularly have difficulty completing projects? If your loved one or a friend exhibits ADHD symptoms, learn more about what behaviors are part of the disorder so you can adjust your emotional response instead of verbally attacking them when you are frustrated with their behavior.

If your partner is currently undergoing treatment, learn as much as you can about the condition and be as helpful as you can with the plan that is set up for management. This includes ways for them to structure their lifestyle or to incorporate reminders that cue them, for example, to complete certain tasks. When in doubt about what they need from you, ask them. They are the best experts in letting you know what’s going to be of most help to them in their lives.

If your co-worker or employee has ADHD, help find appropriate accommodations and techniques they can use to function more efficiently in the workplace. Reminder systems, time prompters, organizers, or color systems to help stay organized can work well. Devices such as watches set to multiple beeps to prompt certain actions or behaviors help people stay on task. Again, talk to them directly (and privately) to find out what kinds of things they will most benefit from and want in their workplace.

The most important thing when talking to someone with attention deficit disorder to realize this is a real condition, so check your judgment at the door. Don’t use a judgmental tone or ask things in a paternalistic manner. Instead, remember, they have a condition they’re grappling with every day (and hopefully seeking treatment for). Act as a support, strength, and resource for the person, and they will appreciate it more than they may ever be able to acknowledge.

Need more tips for helping someone with ADHD? 5 Suggestions for Supporting A Loved One with ADHD.

Helping Someone with ADHD

Jim Haggerty, M.D.

APA Reference
Haggerty, J. (2020). Helping Someone with ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 14 Jan 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 14 Jan 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.