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The Importance of Self-Advocacy

Self-advocacy is the practice of communicating the things that you deal with because of a disability so that you can set boundaries, get accommodations, or explain the strengths or limitations that you have. This is an important part of our process of self-discovery. Understanding your strengths, your limitations, and the accommodations you need allows you to be much more successful and happier in your life. It is a personal journey that we must take if we are going to manage our ADHD.


Self-advocacy is not just for the workplace, it is also good for explaining to your family, friends, and spouses. Letting them know what you deal with and the things that you need help with lets them be aware of what you’re going through. A part of Self-Advocacy is learning and understanding your own ADHD, and what that means for you.

person spinning a pen between fingers

Explaining that you stim, fidget, or are uncomfortable making eye contact are examples of advocating and informing those around you so that they understand when and why you do it. Explaining to your partner/spouse that there are chores that you absolutely hate or can not do allows you to adjust who does what chores. This can help prevent or lessen negative feedback or discord within relationships.


Self-Advocacy is a personal decision; you do not have to disclose if you are not comfortable with a person/people knowing, but it is a good idea if you feel you can trust a person, or a company, to let them know if you need accommodations for what you’re going through.


Self-Advocacy helps with Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria as it lets the important people who are a part of our lives know what triggers that you may have and allow them to be aware of (If it happens) what to do if you do have an outburst (give you space, talk you down, whatever calms you down). It can ease some of the pain you cause people with outbursts. It also allows them to know what triggers you, and they can head it off at the pass with words of affirmation or by giving you feedback in a way that allows you to slow down the process of the feelings of rejection and constructively deal with the feelings.


Knowing our triggers for pain is important, but even more important is knowing our triggers for success. Dr. Ned Hallowell and Dr. John Ratey, in their book ADHD 2.0 talk about “Recognition Responsive Euphoria,” or RRE. This is the positive feeling that people with ADHD get when they receive praise for the work that they are doing or other things that they are working on. It helps dramatically with their motivation, and by self-advocating, you can teach your friends and loved ones how to do this, so that we are not crushed constantly by RSD.


A little known part of Self-Advocacy is that it includes setting boundaries, not just for those around you, but for yourself. Boundaries such as when to wake up, when to get ready for sleep, when you need leave for work, when to eat, when to rest. A friend of mine brought up that we need to not forget “Oh Sh*t” time when you set your alarm for when it’s time to get up.


man comforting another man
We deserve friends who will understand us.

These boundaries are also important because if someone is negative towards what you are going through, or what medications you take, or about you going through therapy, or having breaks to allow yourself to feel your emotions, or anything else you do to manage your ADHD, then they do not have to be in your life. Nobody deserves to be mistreated for things that they need to manage the issues that they face.


Finally, rest or doing something you enjoy is not a reward. It should be an integral part of your day and a part of managing your ADHD. Always schedule a rest period in your day where you can do whatever you enjoy doing. Taking a nap, playing a video game, playing music. You should schedule rest as a part of your day. Nobody should be shaming you for resting daily. Every week, you should also have at least a single rest day where you allow yourself to relax and reset. This is integral to managing ADHD.


Self advocacy is a massively important aspect of managing our ADHD, and the self-discovery that it requires really helps us understand how to use our superpowers that we have from our ADHD, as well as advocating for the accommodations that we need for the disabling issues we face with having ADHD.


If you need help with understanding how your ADHD affects you, and how to learn how to communicate with those around you about it, schedule a free session with me today to learn how I can help you self-advocate!



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