How to Help Someone who has ADHD

August 15, 2019

Hello Hearts! (People who love ADHD brains). Most of my videos focus on helping ADHDers with their challenges. But I understand that some of those challenges might affect you too. So I want to give you a little insight into the ADHD brain, and a few tips that might make loving (and living) with us a little easier. So here’s what you do. [Intro Music] First, it helps to remember that us having ADHD doesn’t mean we’re lazy. Or aren’t trying. Or that you’re doing anything wrong. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, so our brains really do function and develop differently than yours. While we can learn to manage our symptoms, and ADHD is VERY treatable, that doesn’t mean the symptoms just go away. Some things will always be a struggle for us, and understanding those struggles is one of THE most helpful things you can do. So, before I get into the solutions, let’s review the basics. There are three main characteristics of ADHD: 1. Inattention. Or more accurately, lack of focus. While most people can ignore distractions, we have trouble not responding to everything that comes to our attention. So if you’re shopping for a novel, and see a cookbook, your brain dismisses that as irrelevant, while ours makes us pick up the book, flip through it, decide to take a cooking class, and… buy a spice rack. … And then leave without the novel. 2. Impulsivity. You know the part of your brain that makes you realize you’re about to do or say something stupid, and makes you go, “Hmm, well now, let’s think about this.”? Yeah… we don’t have that. Well we do, but it REALLY doesn’t work the same way. You can learn more about that in THIS video. 3. Hyperactivity This doesn’t necessarily mean physical hyperactivity. It could be mental or emotional hyperactivity too, racing thoughts and feelings. This is why going to bed and sitting still are often HUGE challenges for us. So those are the basic characteristics, now here are a few things that it’s also important to understand: hyperfocus. The opposite of inattention, this is a BLESSING… and a curse. If our brains get engaged in the right way, we’ll focus so intently on something that it’s hard to tear us away. Dopamine, aka the “reward neurotransmitter”. We tend to have trouble with routine, everyday tasks, because the reward/motivation system in our brains works differently than yours. So tasks that feel rewarding to you, might feel like torture to us. Executive function. Executive function skills like planning ahead, initiating a task, remembering all the steps involved, and being able to ignore distractions while we work on it, are all affected by our ADHD. Which is why we might get stuck on seemingly simple tasks, like sorting the bills, or doing laundry. It’s also why we tend to start a lot more than we finish. So how does this apply to your real life situations, and how can you help? How can you make life a little easier, not just for your ADHDer, but also seriously, for yourself. First of all, we’re all different, so it’s important to ask. What works for some people with ADHD won’t work for others, and sometimes what works today isn’t going to work tomorrow. But here are some basic solutions to common ADHD issues. Forgetting appointments. Put everything on the calendar. Yes, even date nights. Just because we agreed to it, doesn’t mean we’ll remember it. We’ve been on the computer for eight hours straight, and you’ve been really cool about it, but you NEED our attention. Help ease us out of our hyperfocus before you start talking. A great way to do this? Simple touch. Wait till we’ve pulled our attention away from whatever we’re working on, before you start talking. You’re talking, but we keep getting distracted. This might sound counterintuitive, but hand us something to play with. Fidget toys keep our brains from bouncing all over the room, which helps us focus. It also helps to have important conversations while there aren’t a lot of distractions around. or while we’re doing something physical, like taking a walk. The house is either a mess, or you’ve been taking on way more of the chores than is fair. Yeah, we’re not good at chores. Remember dopamine? Delegate whatever you can, hire a maid or a professional organizer, and what you can’t delegate, encourage us to make fun. Timers, competitions, sticker charts. Tasks that involve novelty, challenges, or deadlines give us higher levels of dopamine, which makes it easier for us to focus. Gamification helps too. I explain more in THIS video. The bills aren’t getting paid, and the garage we promised we’d clean out hasn’t been touched. What helps us here is setting up reminder systems, breaking down projects into simple steps, and scheduling tasks that aren’t urgent. You can learn more about that in THIS video. It also helps to assign the next step, not the whole project. Losing stuff. It’s important to have a place for everything. Keys go on the hook by the door, shoes go on the shelf in the closet. When you reorganize and stuff gets moved around, the house looks great! … We also have no idea where anything is. Keep the place where the important stuff goes as consistent as possible. You’re trying to have a rational discussion with us, but we can’t keep our emotions in check. Cut us some slack, but set some boundaries. We tend to be sensitive, and the parts of our brains that control emotional regulation aren’t as developed as yours. We probably need to work on our “brakes”. [Brake noise] But in the meantime, set some healthy boundaries for yourself, and if the lines get crossed, walk away. Continue the conversation when we’re calm. [Angrily] It’s like we’re not even trying! [Calmly] Most of the time, this isn’t true. ADHDers work a lot harder at life than people realize. We just face a lot of challenges. And for us, “trying harder” usually results in nothing but frustration. The solution for ADHDers typically isn’t
“trying harder”. It’s finding a way to work with our brains in a way that’s more helpful than banging our head against the wall. But occasionally, it is true. We’re not trying. Because we’ve given up. We get discouraged easily. So if every time we make dinner, you get upset at how messy the kitchen gets, we might stop trying. If we feel like we can’t do our homework right, we might not do it. On the other hand, we do really well with encouragement. Notice and appreciate our efforts more often than our failures, and we’ll probably surprise you. Last suggestion for making your life easier, and, I think, the most important. Unless you are our parent, don’t parent us. And even if you are, don’t enable us. Please don’t feel like you have to do everything for us, pity us, make excuses for us, or bail us out of every predicament. As much as that might help in the moment, over time, picking up our slack will only lead to you being resentful and us feeling incompetent. ADHDers face a lot of challenges, but we also have a lot of strengths. One of which is creativity in problem-solving. so don’t underestimate our ability to figure out solutions ourselves. Instead of enabling us, support us. Once you understand what we go through, communicate honestly with us. Tell us what your issues are, and we will work with you to resolve them. If we’re your partner, expect us to be your equal. and treat us as such by appreciating our strengths and respecting our challenges for what they are: brain-based challenges to be overcome not personality defects, or moral failings [Emphatically] or us not caring. Because if we’re still here, we do. That’s it for this week! I’ve included a ton more info in the description below. One of the best things you can do for yourself and your ADHD loved one is what you’re doing right now. Get educated about it! So if you like this video and want more, subscribe. And if you loved this video, and want to help me make more, consider donating to my Patreon page like these amazing Brains did! [Excited] You guys are awesome! Thank you! Thanks for watching. Bye Hearts! And Brains, I’ll see you next week. Question Time! Hey, How to ADHD, have you seen this? They’re doing a Kickstarter campaign for something called the Fidget Cube. … Why, yes I have. I’ll be reviewing this in detail next week.

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