Latimer: Mistakes in managing ADHD

Although a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder puts an end to questions about frustrating symptoms and experiences, it does not mean life instantly gets easier—this is really the beginning of the lifelong work of living well while managing this condition.

Whether the diagnosis is for yourself, your partner or your child, there are things you can do to help and also some pitfalls to avoid as you move forward. Today I am going to focus on a few of the common mistakes people make when managing ADHD.

A first and major hurdle is accepting the diagnosis. Many people are not willing to accept they have ADHD. There are also a lot of misconceptions floating around about what the disorder is and what it isn’t. For this reason, it is important to receive your medical opinion from a professional trained in recognizing this condition. Educate yourself about the condition and you can begin to create a plan for living with it.

Another common mistake is to make too much or too little of medication use. Some people believe medication alone will solve all of their problems and make life easy to manage. Others think they should completely rule out the use of medication under any circumstance. Neither of these extremes represents a good plan when it comes to ADHD. In reality, medication is often a very useful tool in the management of ADHD. It needs to be monitored closely by a professional and used in combination with other behavioural and organizational tools.

Although it can be irksome to someone living with ADHD, planning out each day is a very helpful strategy. Without a concrete plan – usually in writing – it is easy for a person with ADHD to accomplish little during a day. Making a routine of writing out a plan for the following day doesn’t take too much work and can have a big positive impact.

Another difficult area for those living with ADHD is time management. Not only is it more difficult to keep track of time, it is also more difficult to predict how long a task will take or move from one scheduled event to another without external cues. Setting timers can be a helpful tool and thankfully this is easier than ever with smartphones today.

One of the most important pitfalls to avoid when living with ADHD is to listen too much to ignorant people. Well-meaning friends, relations, co-workers and even random people will often try to engage in a conversation about ADHD and how it should be handled.

Unfortunately, many misconceptions exist about ADHD and there are those who will share their ill-informed opinions and advice. Try to take your support and advice from those who know about the condition and professionals who are equipped to offer solutions and tips that will actually help.

Finally, life is hard. With ADHD there are some specific challenges to cope with on top of the everyday struggles we all face. Don’t assume that having a good strategy will make everything perfect. So far, no one has cornered the market on making a perfect life. Create a plan using tools that work for your life. Keep the things that help and tweak when necessary. Focus on the positive and just keep taking things one day at a time—remember that life is a journey.


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