Helpful Speaking and Communicating Tips for ADHD

People with learning disabilities, like ADHD, may have difficulty speaking and communicating with co-workers or supervisors. For people with learning disabilities, poor communication may be the result of underdeveloped social skills, lack of experience/exposure in the workforce, shyness, intimidation, behavior disorders, or low self-esteem.

  • To help facilitate communication, provide advance notice of topics to be discussed in meeting
  • To reduce or eliminate anxiety, provide advance notice of date of meeting when employee is required to speak
  • Allow employee to provide written response in lieu of verbal response
  • To reduce or eliminate the feeling of intimidation, allow employee to have a friend or coworker attend meeting

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Types of Problems

A person with ADHD may or may not have problems with speaking and communicating. It depends on the severity of the disorder. The problems come in many forms and I will talk about a few of them.

  • Listening
  • Fumbled Words
  • Topic Switching
  • Memory/Focus/Concentration Loss
  • Distractions
  • Impatience

The more I think about speaking and communicating with ADHD, I want to add more to the above list. I am going to stop with what I have and work with it. Just know that there may be a lot more that I did not list.

As I talk about each item, they will overlap each other. I am not going to separate them out into different categories.

Listening is a big thing in communication. If only one person will be talking in a conversation, then it is not as important (if the person with ADHD is the one talking). There is a lot of activity happening in the brain of the person with ADHD. It is difficult to juggle all of the information entering the brain through the senses at the same time. Use my juggling idea for a group activity to teach others about ADHD.

ADHD and Juggling

Picture a guy juggling 5 items. Another person wants his attention. This person comes along and his/her's words are more items. As this person talks, they throw an item at the juggler. The juggler has to grab this item and add it to the other 5 items.

Where is the juggler's attention? On the 6 items and on the individual. The person continues to talk and tosses more items. If you can picture this, it is very difficult for the juggler to put all of his focus solely on the individual.

A person with ADHD is like this juggler. The items are in the brain. The 5 senses continue to feed more items into the brain. Now add a person communicating and there are more items quickly adding to the others.

Back to my list.

The problem is not with listening but more with hearing. When I am talking with someone, I miss a lot of what they say. I want to listen but I have 20 other things going on in my brain.

I am listening but the words are added to the items and juggled around. It is easy to see how this leads to a speaking and communicating problem. The other person would have to continually repeat themselves. How frustrating.

Imagine adding a spouse to the situation. Disaster. How about a parent with an ADHD child?

All these scenarios can be frustrating. It also is devastating for the person with ADHD.

When it comes time for the person with ADHD to talk, they may not even remember what was being talked about. Because of this, the subject may be changed without notice everytime they talk. This can be 10 times in 1 conversation. Wow!

Click on one of the links below. You can go to the next section or go to the employee/student help page.

Organizational Skills

There is so much information in the brain that it is hard to focus on one thing to say. Add Hyperactivity always moving, fidgeting, tapping on things), noises, people, tv, cars, bugs, or whatever is around, and there is a concentration nightmare.

The senses of our body pick up everything around but filters block out the least important.

A person with ADHD is "missing" these filters. (Just seems that they are turned off) This is why everything distracts them.

The person with ADHD may fumble over words when they talk. This happens to me all the time.

I say things and for some reason I skip words in a sentence or I begin a new sentence while in another one.

May sound weird but if you know ADHD people, you understand what I am saying. The other thing is being impatient. We have something to say and we want to hurry up and get it out even if someone else is talking.

So that is the speaking and communicating problems that many encounter. Try to be patient with us. It is just as difficult for us.

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