Explaining ADHD to Neurotypicals

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The term ‘Neurotypicals’ refers to people who are not Neurodiverse.

There is no ‘perfect’ way to explain ADHD to anyone, however, I’ve found that it can be tricky.

The easiest way to explain ADHD is to come up with an explanation that works for you. Even though there are good explanations out there by scientists and ADHD professionals, using your own words and experience works too. We know that ADHD presents differently in everyone, speaking about how ADHD affects you personally is a good start.

How I explain my ADHD

I explain that ADHD is a neurological condition which includes symptoms of inattentiveness and hyperactivity. I then go onto listing the key traits that I struggle with such as: difficulties focusing, impulsiveness, procrastination and always feeling like I’m being ‘driven by a motor’. Also, I throw out a few comparisons between ADHDers and Neurotypicals. For instance, a non-ADHDer could spend 40mins completing a task which could take an ADHDer 2hrs or more to complete.

I also mention that there are a few positive aspects of ADHD like hyperfocus, multitasking and being an idea generation machine.

You could give a textbook explanation of ADHD or you could explain your experience of ADHD. depending on who you speak to.

Answering FAQs

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Here are some common questions I’m asked and how I tend to respond to them:

Neurotypical: “Doesn’t everyone struggle with procrastination?”

Me: “For ADHDers, it’s much more exacerbated as procrastination is often combined with other ADHD traits like difficulties sustaining attention and fidgeting.”

Neurotypical: “Do you get to take Adderall then?”

Me: “Obviously there’s a big stigma around young people taking Adderall for recreational purposes but that is not the case for ADHDers. We take stimulants to help with executive functioning skills that come naturally to non-ADHDers.”

Neurotypical: “Why have you only been diagnosed now?”

Me: “After doing some online research, I felt that I had ADHD which eventually led to my official diagnosis. Even though ADHD develops in childhood, many adults have undiagnosed ADHD. ADHD is often missed in girls and it’s also very difficult to get an ADHD diagnosis as an adult.”

Tips

  • If you’re unsure of how to put it into words, you could signpost to a useful article or video. Here’s a short explainer from ‘How to ADHD’ on YouTube.

  • You could mention notable people with ADHD, if relevant. For instance, Michael Phelps, Serena Williams, Sir Richard Branson, Simon Biles - the list goes on!

I hope this was helpful! If so, feel free to share with other’s who might find this useful.

Rach, with ADHD.