There are three sub-types of ADHD:
- Hyperactive ADHD (primarily physically hyperactivity)
- Inattentive ADHD ( originally ADD/primarily mentally hyperactive)
- Combined-type ADHD (both physical and mentally hyperactive)
Considered a neuro-developmental condition, ADHD is primarily genetic and unrelated to vaccines or diet. It is also not a child-only “disorder.” ADHD is life-long neurodivergence, which is not something to “cure”. Medication will help ADHD people with symptoms, such as focus, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
Due to the three different sub-types, the severities of each for an individual, as well as any comorbid conditions, ADHD will be presented and experienced differently by each and every individual adult (and child).
However, in the simplest explanation, ADHD is a form of neurodivergence in which a person cannot “control”:
- hyperactivity (whether physically or mentally, such as day-dreaming)
- amplified emotions
- what they pay attention to
(ADHD is not the inability to concentrate, however. It is the ability to hyperfocus (extreme concentration) on specific interests to the ADHD individual.)
- time blindness
Examples of Comorbid Conditions:
- misophonia (hypersensitive hearing)
- rejection sensitivity dysphoria
- may co-occur with other forms of neurodivergence, including Autism
- and many more…
- bold, sharp, and to the point
- interjecting “out of turn” in a conversation; blurting out information
- randomly changing subjects
- focused on one point rather than a conversation as a whole
- incomplete or unrelated thoughts in a conversation
- “overly” emotional
- fast-paced speaking, writing, or responses
- repetition of stories or conversation, especially if upset
- quiet, spacy
- non-responsive but appearing as if listening
- may ask for person to repeat what has been said or the question
- may forget what was speaking about mid-sentence (due to distractability or spacing out)
What it may read like to NT people:
Neurotypical people may interpret communication with ADHD people as rude, manipulative, dishonest, disinterested, spacy, aggressive, insistent, slow (calculative) or angry (fast paced typing, etc.), purposefully avoidant, or not answering on purpose because of how neurotypical communication styles look like as the accepted norm.
However, executive dysfunction mixed with comorbid conditions will mean that an ADHD person may have slow or very fast paced processing time. On top of this, many ADHD people may have reading “disabilities” and may not be able to fully read a conversation with someone if it is not done in a specific way (short and broken up point-by-point rather than 20 points all at once in long paragraphs).
How to communicate most efficiently:
It’s important to understand that ADHD people have more thoughts and internal conversations in an hour than the average neurotypical person will most likely have in a day. ADHD people’s brain does not stop. Often time, an ADHD person might be communicating partial statements that may not make sense to a neurotypical person because that is what they were able to pin down and get out of their brain. In an argument or misunderstanding, they may read as avoidant or aggressive due to their style of communication mixed with emotional dysregulation.
Because of this, the following may help avoid miscommunications:
- Use direct, clear language.
- Do not imply things. The person will most likely not get anything from indirect requests or demands. Just say it!
- When writing, write in short sentences and concise language.
- Do not read “between the lines” regarding what someone is saying or take implied meanings from statements.
- When in a discussion, address one point at a time.
- Ask questions to ensure the ADHD person has communicated fully what they intended to.
- Ask questions to ensure that the person has understood what is being requested of them.
- When speaking, ensure minimal distractions. Group settings will not be the best way to get an ADHD person speaking because they may not be able to follow a conversation between many people at once.
- When speaking, ask questions to ensure the person is engaged in the conversation. Don’t just non-stop talk.
- Do not take it personal if the person if fidgeting, not looking at you, doodling, on their phone, or any other activity as they are in conversation with you. Multi-tasking may help some ADHD people focus and listen better.