When ADHD Becomes an Excuse

Has this ever happened to you? You are on the phone talking to your spouse and you stop mid-sentence and start to look for your phone to see if you have a text message. You panic while you are still in conversation and say, “ Honey, I can’t find my……?” And then you suddenly realize it is in your hand!!!!  Could ADHD become an excuse for you?

Is this just plain absent-mindedness or ADHD working memory?
Or is this you?

Do you find yourself making excuses for your “loudmouth” that shocks people into a burst of nervous laughter? You realize right AFTER you said something that the person you told it to was taken way off guard, shocked or insulted because you have that gift of reading people’s facial expressions AFTER you blurt out something without thinking it through first. But you know it is too late to go back. You have seen this expression many times before. So first, you apologize, “Hey, I have ADHD and we tend to act before we think!”   You try to smooth it over and then walk away with that dreaded feeling that you just once again inserted your foot straight into your mouth.

What is the fine line between taking ownership of your ADHD and using it as an excuse?

You wish it weren’t this way, but throughout the years, you have done this and you say the only thing you remember from your conditioned childhood is that you do things differently and sometimes offensively because you have ADHD.

It’s just who I am…..

it is common for parents to focus a lot on their ADHD children in an attempt to normalize their actions as much as possible, but it can backfire as they get older and become young adults. So much so that the person can get confused with their actual condition as most of their lives they heard that they could not do certain things normally because they are dealing with ADHD. At other times, they might have been constantly reminded about the diagnosis. In both cases, there are high chances of believing that they are not capable of doing certain things, internalizing negative perceptions about themselves. People start giving their condition as an excuse to others, saying they cannot do something because they are dealing with ADHD.

“Yes, I know I make a lot of mistakes but that’s because I have ADHD.”

Or you might hear, “I keep forgetting the formulas; I have issues remembering things because I am dealing with ADHD.” – all these and various other excuses could be potential scapegoats expression when they are trying to avoid doing something.

Focusing too much on the ADHD symptoms can lead to negative consequences – short term as well as long term. Therefore, it is essential to understand the difference between empathizing and making them feel low. Focusing on their symptoms to help them deal with them is different than making them think they are incapable of doing a certain thing. And there is a grey boundary between these two things. Understanding the difference between the explanation and an excuse is important as the difference is subtle.

Here’s how you can help

It is essential to look at different ways you can assist. For instance, your 10-year-old wants to go out for a movie with friends. You are worried because he gets hyperactive at times and when he is in that state, it can intrude in people’s personal space. Yet, you don’t want to stop him just because he has ADHD. The solution is to explain your concern instead of showing it as an excuse. Sit with him and describe the issue about him getting hyperactive. Don’t just show him his problem, also provide him opportunities or ways to role-play and offer solutions when he gets too much energy and needs to move around.

Focus on the solution of how they CAN do something. You can use role-playing for behavior outcomes. This strategy can be used for children and adults. It can help to bridge the desire to use ADHD as a self-defeating symptom and see there are other possibilities. You can also discuss strategies that help thinking patterns with a distraction or fidget toy. This can help the mind focus more. By considering strategies and resources to help the symptoms of ADHD, one can need to rely on it as an excuse and focus on what they can do IN SPITE of ADHD.

Raz Coaching specializes in helping people with executive function challenges associated with ADHD, PTSD, Stress, TBI’s and ASD find careers they will love and land them. Read more at www.razcoaching.com/about Or sign up for the weekly blog or purchase my new book Happiness+Passion+Purpose.  It is packed full of exercises and strategies you can put to use immediately.