I Have ADHD; Now What Do I Do?

Congratulations, you have a tribe! You are among the 4.4% of the adult population or 11% of the child population, ages 4-17, who have been diagnosed with ADHD.

An ADHD diagnosis can be a shock for some people, but for many individuals it comes as a relief.

ADHD is an explanation for why certain things happen, both the good and the challenging.

Now that you have a diagnosis, what should you do?


First, once you have received your diagnosis, it is time to learn all you can about the unique wiring of the ADHD brain.

ADHD is often described as a paradox of strengths and weaknesses.  ADHD is described as an impairment of executive functions.  The executive functions are all those behaviors that are necessary to reach a goal: planning, prioritizing, organizing, focusing of attention, regulating emotions, etc.

It is believed that the area of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, that houses the executive functions is under stimulated, making it hard to start certain tasks and sustain effort.

Another area of the ADHD brain that is compromised is the reward/motivation pathway in the brain.  ADHDers often don’t experience rewards and motivation at the same intensity/level as their peers without ADHD.

Knowing that the ADHD brain is wired for interest is also important to understand.  When an ADHDer is engaged in something of interest, few challenges exist.

On the other hand, when faced with a task that holds little to no interest, ADHDers often experience more challenges. For more information about executive functions, click here.


Second, identify your strengths and successes, of which you have many.

Humans are naturally programmed with a negativity bias.  Add ADHD into the equation and many ADHDers see only their weaknesses and difficulties.

What do you like to do? What is fun for you? What gives you a sense of satisfaction? What actions do you keep repeating? The answers to those questions will point you toward your strengths. For a list of strengths click here.


Third, identify strategies that you can implement to help support you in your areas of challenge.

If you struggle with time management, try setting reminders on your phone to alert you to certain deadlines or “to-dos” or use a timer to help you keep track of the time.

Need help with organization? Color coding files could help you keep track of important papers.

Books about ADHD often describe many different strategies and are a good source of information. Don’t get discouraged if a strategy that is described in a book doesn’t work for you. Tweak it so that it will work for you.  We are humans, one size doesn’t fit all.

Knowing that ADHD is part of your equation helps to narrow down strategies that could be beneficial.


Fourth, identify a variety of individuals who can become part of your “success team.”

Everyone needs to have supportive people in their lives and ADHDers are no different.  Who are the people that bring out the best in you or give you energy? Who are the people who are “in your court” so to speak?

As a human species we spend enough time beating ourselves up over many things, we don’t need to surround ourselves with people who drain the energy and life out of us.  Some members of your success team might include:

  • Spouse or significant other
  • Supportive friends and relatives
  • Physician
  • Psychologist or licensed counselor
  • Psychiatrist
  • ADHD Coach

The gold standard of treatment for ADHD is medication and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and/or ADHD coaching.


Fifth, join other members of your tribe. Take advantage of support groups in your area. If your area doesn’t have an established support group, you could join a virtual support group (ADDA) or even think about starting your own.

Conferences and webinars are another great way to get information about ADHD and help you feel like you are part of a bigger community.  Joining organizations like CHADD or ADDA can connect you with a wealth of information.


Lastly, sit back and enjoy YOU!  You are an amazing individual with a unique profile of strengths and weaknesses.

Having ADHD only means that you do some things differently than other people.  Embrace your unique way of being in the world.

You will be glad that you did.


Image Credits:
Knowledge is Power: Image by Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Woman showing success: Image by photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Hands:Image by adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Family: Image by photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Kristine (Shiverick) Kaufmann
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