Couples need strength to get through ADHD

By Nina Gougis

Like many others, Paul Legler was once unaware of the symptoms caused by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

He started to suspect he had the disorder 15 years ago while he counseled ADHD and hyperactive children because he noticed he shared a lot of the same symptoms.

Now, eight years after his diagnosis, he works at the Family Service Agency, 14 Health Services Drive, as a licensed clinical professional counselor.

One of the most common misconceptions, Legler said, is that ADHD affects only learning, when it actually affects your whole life.

The disorder also can take a toll on relationships, Legler said during the “Living with Your ADHD Partner” presentation he gave to couples Friday at the Family Service Agency.

It is important for ADHD couples to support each other’s weaknesses with their strengths, Legler said. He said those with ADHD partners must be aware their partners may be less organized, more spontaneous and less able to keep track of time.

One thing that could help is having one person do routine tasks, like taking out the garbage. In addition, it is important for partners to listen to each other because those with ADHD often come up with creative and innovative ideas, Legler said.

Those without the disorder should help keep their partners grounded or help them carry out their ideas, he said.

“Then they will notice the perfect puzzle they create because their strengths and weaknesses balance so well,” Legler said.

Legler also said this could help the ADHD partner from feeling like the victim, something that could be detrimental to a relationship.

“Do not use ADHD as an excuse and stand back as a helpless victim,” Legler said. “If you work as a team, you will not have to use it as an excuse.”

Andrew and Kristen Winters of DeKalb said the presentation was informative and will help them deal with Kristen’s disorder.

“We are going to try to incorporate it into our everyday lives,” Kristen said.

Legler said although his experience with ADHD has been difficult, he can relate to his patients better because he has experienced first-hand what they are going through.

“The experience is still very important in diagnosing and treating,” Legler said.

Legler plans to organize a support group for couples with ADHD partners in the near future. For more information, call 758-8611.