Helping a friend with ADHD

Dealing with ADHD is no walk in the park. It can be tough to help a friend with ADHD, although chances are it’s even harder for them to manage their condition. So, stick at it, and follow some handy tips to help them manage their symptoms. Don’t forget to look after yourself and get extra support if you need it.

This might help if:

  • You’ve got a friend with ADHD
  • You want to help someone you know who has ADHD
  • You’ve got ADHD and it’s really hard on your friends sometimes
 
group eating lunch together

What's ADHD all about?

ADHD is a behavioural disorder in which, simply put, a person has trouble focusing on everything they have to do. When you’ve got a friend with ADHD, it’s important to keep in mind that they don’t always relate to people in the same way as others. They often struggle with symptoms such as: 
  • not being able to maintain focus or pay attention 
  • Being impatient
  • Bot following through on instructions 
  • Often losing things or being forgetful 
  • Making what seem to be careless mistakes in work/study
  • Not being able to follow instructions or finish tasks
  • Appearing not to listen when someone’s speaking to them
  • Getting easily distracted
  • Not being able to stay still
  • Talking. A lot.
  • Bot being able to do anything quietly
  • Butting into other people’s conversations
  • Having trouble relating to other people’s emotions or points of view

These things can make it really hard to nurture a friendship in the way they might like to. 

So, it’s great that you want to help your friend out, but don’t take it personally if they don’t always seem to be on the same page as you. Keep at it, and check out the following tips to help make things run a bit more smoothly. 

How you can help

  • Recognise that it’s out of their control. If your friend is constantly showing the symptoms listed above, you might find yourself starting to get frustrated. When this happens, remind yourself that it’s not their choice to act in that way. It might push your patience to its limits at certain moments but it will ultimately be the best thing for the friendship.  

  • Be forgiving. We all stuff up now and then, but chances are you’ll find your friend making mistakes more frequently. Try to be forgiving, even if you think they’re just being lazy or careless. 

  • Arm yourself with information. Finding out info about ADHD might help you understand more what they’re going through. 

  • Encourage them to stay on their medication. If you feel comfortable doing so, encourage them to keep taking their medications according to their treatment plan  Finding the right meds can sometimes be a tricky process, so if they’re discouraged, and want to stop taking them, encourage them to see their doctor ASAP for a review . It can be really dangerous to stop taking certain meds suddenly.

  • Establish structure. People with ADHD often benefit from structure. Encourage your friend to establish a schedule and follow it. Why don’t you give them a diary and help them fill it out? Or an online diary or app can be easy for them to take everywhere they go.

  • Set aside time to connect. Sometimes people with ADHD struggle to keep in touch with their friends. Find regular time to connect with your friend with ADHD, to check in with them and see how they’re doing. You might want to set aside some time every Monday evening (or whenever suits you both) to give them a call or get a cuppa together. 

Don’t forget about you

Supporting friends through difficulties can also be really hard on you, especially if you’ve been doing it for a while. If you’ve got a friend with ADHD you might find yourself constantly dealing with their symptoms or second-guessing yourself, which can be exhausting. Don’t forget to look after yourself – take time out, relax, and if you need to, distribute the load by talking to other friends about helping out. Check out some good ways to care for yourself whilst caring for others. And remember – you don’t have to go it alone. You can always talk to a trusted friend, family member or a counsellor about it – just be sure to respect your friend’s wishes if they asked you to keep the things that they tell you confidential.

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 06 August, 2015
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