Adult ADHD: Are You Giving Explanations or Excuses?

June 27, 2013 Elizabeth Prager

The line between explaining or excusing yourself with adult ADHD symptoms can be tricky. Here are some ideas on how to explain without using ADHD as an excuse.

It's often hard to tell the difference between whether you're explaining something or making excuses for yourself when you have adult ADHD. When you find it difficult to accomplish something and your ADHD symptoms are holding you back, you may try to explain why this is the case and others may think you are making excuses. How can we find the balance in these situations?Ever since being diagnosed with ADHD, I've been walking this tightrope strung up between explanations and excuses. There are difficulties I have that are exacerbated by my adult ADHD and sometimes I'm unable to complete tasks because of these difficulties.

Take Effort Into Account When Considering ADHD Explanations vs. Excuses

As of late, I've found reading to be near impossible. Whether it's been reading for enjoyment or reading as a means of studying, it's been really tough. At points, I haven't been able to muddle through a few pages, let alone complete chapters or assignments. Am I able to explain my difficulties as a result of my ADHD or is it merely me making an excuse?

I think the answer lies in the effort I've given to the process. The tricky part? The effort cannot be measured by anyone other than me. A lot of people in my life have found it difficult to believe when I say I've given my all to a project that hasn't been up to snuff, because in their minds up to snuff equals complete and perfect. To me, though, I think effort counts for a lot.

Phrasing Counts, Too

It's one thing to say to someone, "I have Adult ADHD and that's why I didn't get this done," versus saying, "I've been struggling to complete tasks right now, but I can assure you I gave this my all." I feel like the first one sounds like an excuse, using ADHD as your "get out of jail free" card. The second statement is more of a feeling statement where you've taken as much responsibility for the situation as your current state allows.

I know that we live in a world where getting it done counts for a lot, and I also know that having adult ADHD can make completing unwanted or difficult tasks challenging. It's important for us to not use our diagnosis as an excuse, though, and to rather help others understand what we find difficult and to let others know that we're working as hard as we can for as long as we can.

APA Reference
Prager, E. (2013, June 27). Adult ADHD: Are You Giving Explanations or Excuses?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 23 from

Author: Elizabeth Prager

September, 15 2018 at 2:29 pm

Excellent..I need help..constructive help.

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