The Importance of Self-Advocacy Among Individuals with ADHD
October is Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Awareness Month. ADHD is a complex condition that impacts the brain’s executive functions. Things like thought organization, short-term memory, planning, attention, self-control, and other aspects of higher brain functioning can all be impacted by ADHD. The impact of ADHD is different for everyone, so self-advocacy is important. Individuals with ADHD are the best resource to help their community understand what support services they need. In this blog, we’ll talk about why self-advocacy is so important to improve outcomes for individuals with ADHD.
You Know You Best
The biggest reason that people with ADHD should increase in self-advocacy is simple – you are the ultimate expert on you. No two people have the same experience with ADHD. Individuals who have ADHD know what they need to be successful in different situations better than anyone else can. When they’re encouraged to self-advocate, individuals can ask for what they need.
Increased Confidence & Self-Awareness
Self-advocacy also helps people to build confidence and self-awareness. Because the individual with ADHD is asked to provide information about what they need, they spend time thinking through exactly what that is. The more they increase their self-awareness and practice advocating for their needs, the more confident they will feel doing so in the future.
Self-Advocacy Helps Others
In addition to helping the individual, one person’s self-advocacy also serves as an example to others in the community. It shows them that they can ask for what they need without feeling embarrassed of fearing stigma due to their ADHD diagnosis. Self-advocacy on the part of one person can have a ripple effect improving the lives of others.
How Can You Self-Advocate?
If you are an individual with ADHD who wants to begin self-advocating, you may be wondering how to begin. I recommend starting small. Talk to your loved ones or close friends about ways they can support you to achieve your goals (whatever that looks like). If you’re a student, consider being present (if this isn’t already required) during educational resource planning meetings. If you’re going into college, prepare for and meet with your school’s resource center before you begin classes.
Another great opportunity for self-advocacy, especially among younger people, is within your peer group. You may hear people make jokes about how they “their ADHD is acting up today” when they’re having trouble concentrating. While these comments may not be meant as harmful, they contribute to misunderstandings about the condition. When you hear people say things like this, let them know that you actually do have ADHD, every day, and it’s a real struggle no something to joke about. Pick your moments. Challenge yourself, but remember, self-advocacy is meant to make your life better. If it feels too confronting or doesn’t seem to be helping, allow yourself to pull back and focus on what feels right.
Can Assessment Help With Self-Advocacy?
Before you can advocate for your needs – you have to know what they are. That’s where assessment comes in. Using a comprehensive testing battery, I help my clients to see a full picture of their skills and areas where they may struggle. Backed with the details of your testing results, you’ll feel empowered to self-advocate. If you’re interested in learning more, get in touch to schedule an appointment at Gerdin Psychological Services in Spokane.