Adults with ADHD and communication challenges

Communication skills are essential for you to make your way in the adult world. By now you will know or others will have talked with you about the way in which you communicate. The symptoms of your ADHD may present you with some challenges, however if you are aware of them, then you can focus on how to manage them. Have a look at the following and see if any of these are familiar to you:

  • Feeling of being overwhelmed by a conversation
  • Having difficulty following the conversation
  • Having difficulty attending to the conversation
  • Getting distracted by other things during the conversation
  • Talking too much or not talking enough
  • Interrupting others’ conversations
  • Being loud in a conversation



If any of these are familiar to you then you need to focus on an area and work towards improving your skills in this part of the communication exchange.

If you think about your brain as a large filing system for information it is quite amazing that we can flick through the files to get the information to carry out a conversation. The ADHD brain may not be equipped with an efficient filing system and this can be a cause for the difficulties you experience in trying to establish, maintain and exit a conversation in an appropriate way. If the impulsive part of your brain switches into action at this time, you may say whatever pops into your head, which is probably out of context and not what you were wanting to say at all.

Feeling pressure in a communication exchange can cause stress and this can create even more trouble for you in trying to find the right words. This may cause you to talk excessively or to withdraw from the conversation altogether.

The environment that you are in may distract you or even your own thoughts on other topics may be playing around in your mind. These distractions make it almost impossible for you to focus and give your attention to the conversation.

Now that you are aware of the communication challenges that you may have, here are some strategies that may help:

  • Let those around you at work, home, university etc know that you have a difficulty with communicating and that you require time to organise your thoughts
  • Let them know that you can be easily distracted and ask them to remind you to focus
  • If you are monopolising the conversation, ask them to tell you e.g. ’Someone else would like to say something now’
  • If meetings and presentations are environments that cause you potential stress and are distracting, try memo cards or a technology device with your pre-written thoughts ready as a prompt to support you

Communication can be more challenging if you have a further learning disability such as Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD) or an Intellectual Disability(ID). If this is the case, then there are further strategies to assist you with different aspects of communication.

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