As some of you may know, I recently published my first book on adult ADHD with co-author Donald Haupt, M.D. It was a wonderful experience and I am happy to share an excerpt of the book here with you:
Talking to Family about ADHD
If you are the first person in your family to be diagnosed with DHD, or at least the first adult, it may be hard to broach the subject. There are so many misconceptions in the media and the general public about ADHD, and many of these are so ingrained it is sometimes difficult to overcome what people “think” ADHD is and replace those ideas with the reality of ADHD.
Although every family is different, the following are some general do’s and don’ts for talking with your family about your diagnosis of ADHD:
- Don’t call a large family meeting or make an announcement at a family gathering if you are not sure what reactions you will be receiving.
- Do start with one or two family members whom you believe will be supportive. Explain ADHD to them, and use their reactions to help you prepare for telling other family members.
- Do make a list of how ADHD has impacted your life. This can include major experiences, such as your career, as well as how it interferes with your daily life.
- Don’t feel obligated to share the entire list with your family. Use this list to help you talk about your ADHD. Your family need only know what you choose to share.
- Do look for a one to two page informational article or fact sheet on adult ADHD. The doctor who diagnosed you may have some info to help explain the major symptoms of ADHD.
- Don’t come laden with several books on the subject. That might be overwhelming. A simple fact sheet works best in the beginning.
- Do have book titles or additional information available for family members who are interested in finding out more about ADHD.
- Don’t insist your family members read several books on ADHD.
- Do ask your family what they believe about ADHD and be prepared to talk calmly about the myths and misconceptions vs. the reality of ADHD.
- Don’t become emotional or defensive when discussing the myths. A calm and confident discussion is better.
- Do assume this is an ongoing discussion. Allow family members to slowly digest information you presented and come back later with additional questions.
- Don’t create a marathon informational session that can seem more like a classroom lecture.
- Do be prepared for many different reactions. Each family member will have his own opinion of ADHD based on his own experiences. Preparing for different reactions ahead of time will help you stay focused on your answers.
The book, of course, has a great deal more information and I hope you will find it useful in your adventure of living with adult ADHD.
If you have the book, or get it in the future, please leave a comment and let me know what you think of it. I would love to hear from you.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.