My Family Thinks ADHD and LD Are a Joke

"I'm a 32-year-old teacher who still lives at home, and I have been diagnosed with ADHD and have other learning disabilities, including dyscalculia (trouble with numbers)," one reader tells us. "Lately, I've been feeling like the family joke. Just yesterday, when I asked my mom if she could pay me back the money I lent her over Christmas -- I transposed numbers in my check register (yeah, dyscalculia) and was short of money -- she started laughing. Am I being oversensitive? Is there anything I can do to change these family dynamics?"
The Experts | posted by Michele Novotni, Ph.D.

Family counseling could be helpful in situations where certain members of the family do not understand and choose to make fun of other members of the family with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), learning disabilities (LD), or other different abilities. In functional families, everyone generally supports and encourages each other. Perhaps your family doesn’t understand the brain-based challenges you are struggling with. Information about your disorders from a counselor could validate your challenges and stop their behavior.

If they won’t participate in counseling, protect yourself by not sharing more information than you need to. For example, you could have asked your mom to repay the money she borrowed and not say why you needed it. Or you could have said, “I’m running a little short,” without giving her an explanation. Individual counseling -- with or without your family -- could help you deal with the emotional fallout from having ADD/ADHD.

Michele Novotni, Ph.D., is the former president and CEO of the national Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), a best-selling author, a psychologist, a coach, a parent of a young adult with ADD/ADHD, an ADDitude magazine writer, and a contributor to ADDitude's new ADHD Experts Blog.

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