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Dr Hallowell ADHD and mental and cognitive health

A resource about ADD, ADHD, and mental health

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Blaming ADHD?

If you have a tendency to hide behind your ADHD,  let me stress that ADHD is not an excuse for anything and it should never be used as one. It may be an explanation for certain behavior, but it cannot excuse any behavior. If you tell a traffic cop who stops you for speeding that you have ADHD, he will still give you the speeding ticket.   If you tell your boss you have ADHD, you will still be expected to work. If you tell your spouse or partner that you have ADHD, he/she will still expect you to pay attention to him/her. The demands of everyday life do not yield to the diagnosis of ADHD.  It is up to the individual with ADHD to adjust to the demands of everyday life.

However, you can and should use your knowledge of ADHD to make your life go more smoothly. Avoid getting the speeding ticket by using your knowledge that you have a taste for high speed and deliberately drive more slowly. Talk to your boss about your ADHD and work out a plan so you adapt better to our workplace. Come to an understanding with your “significant other” so he/she can use hand signals or verbal cues to bring you back when you tune out or involuntarily cease paying attention. These are examples of using your knowledge of ADHD not as an excuse but proactively, to prevent problems before they occur.

If you have a child with ADHD, the same principle applies: ADHD is an explanation, not an excuse.  Most kids, once they catch on to what ADHD is, they go through a phase of trying to use it as an excuse.  So caution the child not to use ADD as an excuse. They still have to take responsibility for what they do.

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