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The Importance of Self-Advocacy for Women with ADHD


What’s inside this article: A look at self-advocacy for women with ADHD and why this skill is crucial. Covers self-advocacy in relationships, careers, and health care and provides additional resources specifically tailored to women.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Self-advocacy is the ability to express and speak up for your rights, needs, wants, and interests. It involves asserting yourself in a way that is proactive and respectful to achieve your goals and ensure your needs are met. 

Self-advocacy is crucial for women with ADHD who face unique challenges due to gender and neurodivergence.

What is Self-Advocacy?

Self-advocacy is about knowing your rights and responsibilities clearly expressing your needs and wants, and asserting your rights when they are violated. It involves making and standing by your informed decisions. 

For women with ADHD, it means understanding their condition and how it affects them well, knowing their rights, and communicating their needs effectively to friends, romantic partners, family, doctors, and employers.

Examples of self-advocacy:

  • When attending a doctor’s appointment to discuss your problems, symptoms, and possible treatments, arrive prepared. Research ADHD and how it affects women/adults. Have a list of your symptoms and questions you’d like answered so you don’t forget anything when you arrive. Communicate to the doctor that it’s important they help you develop a thorough care plan that suits your specific needs. Being informed and assertive helps ensure you get the proper attention and care.
  • You’re finding it difficult to concentrate and stay organized at work, so you arrange a meeting with your boss. In the meeting, share some adjustments to your workspace or schedule that you know to be helpful. Also explain why you think these adjustments will improve job performance. Agree to follow up with your boss to ensure any changes made are helpful and reinforce that successfully performing your role at work is important to you. 

Why Self-Advocacy is Essential for Women with ADHD

ADHD doesn’t present the same way in women as it does in men. As a result, women are underdiagnosed, creating a lack of understanding and support for women dealing with this condition. 

This means many women with ADHD receive a late diagnosis, don’t get the help they need, and often struggle with other mental health problems like anxiety and depression. This makes it crucial for them to speak up for themselves—be it in relationships, at work, or with healthcare providers.

ADHD and Gender Bias

Research has mainly focused on how ADHD appears in young boys, usually those who are very hyperactive. This means that many people only think of ADHD as a “boys’ condition,” leaving women’s symptoms unnoticed. 

Women often experience ADHD differently than men. Women deal more with inattention and internal struggles, which often go unnoticed until much later in life.

Self-Advocacy in Relationships

Relationships can be difficult for women with ADHD because of their impulsivity, forgetfulness, and heightened emotions. When people around them don’t understand ADHD, these traits can be misunderstood and create tension.

Why Speaking Up is Important in Relationships: 

By advocating for themselves, women can help their partners better understand their needs and experiences, avoiding unnecessary misunderstandings or arguments. 

Explaining your emotions, needs, and requirements clearly with your partner helps create a supportive environment.

Self-Advocacy in the Workplace

Work often demands good organization and focus—things women with ADHD may struggle with. Without the proper support and adjustments (and the right career path), work can become stressful and unmanageable.

Why Speaking Up is Important at Work: 

By speaking up, women can ask for what they need to work better, like flexible hours or clearer instructions, creating a more supportive work environment. It helps build understanding with employers, allowing women to perform better and feel less stressed at work.

The end results – improved job performance and reduced stress will pay off for both you and your employer. 

Self-Advocacy in Healthcare

Healthcare is the starting point for dealing with ADHD, but because of misunderstandings about how ADHD affects women, they often don’t get the right diagnosis or treatment and are diagnosed much later in life. 

Why Speaking Up is Important in Healthcare: 

Women need to be informed and assertive to get the right help. They can get the right treatment plans by doing their own research, accurately describing their symptoms, and insisting on proper care. 

It is also about demanding respectful care and looking for other opinions if something doesn’t feel right.

Achieving a Balance:

While speaking up is important, it’s equally crucial to listen and be open to other people’s ideas and solutions. Self-advocacy is about expressing yourself clearly while also respecting different viewpoints and maintaining a dialog. 

You may need to be open to trying other suggestions from your employer, for example, but you should communicate what is and isn’t working and why certain tasks, environments, or expectations are difficult for you.

Resources for Developing Self-Advocacy

Women with ADHD looking to strengthen their self-advocacy skills can explore the following resources:


  1. Duke Center for Girls and Women with ADHD  – Primarily helps women with ADHD by providing educational resources for them, their families, educators, clinicians and the general public.
  2. CHADD Women and Girls – Provides extensive information, resources, and support for people with ADHD.


  1. ADHD for Smart Ass Women – This podcast offers insights, strategies, and compelling conversations aimed at women with ADHD.
  2. I Have ADHD Podcast with Kristen Carder: Practical advice, strategies, and support for people with ADHD, often addressing issues specifically related to women with ADHD.
  3. The Adulting With ADHD Podcast:  This podcast aims to unpack things that often aren’t covered in the doctor’s office, like how ADHD relates to hormones, trauma, food/eating, and more.


  1. Queen of Distraction: How Women with ADHD Can Conquer Chaos, Find Focus, and Get More Done” by Terry Matlen:  Terry Matlen offers a multitude of practical solutions tailored specifically for women with ADHD, addressing the chaos of everyday life and providing strategies to find focus and increase productivity.
  2. Women with ADHD: The Complete Guide to Stay Organized, Overcome Distractions, and Improve Relationships. Manage Your Emotions, Finances, and Succeed in Life” by Sarah Davis: This guide will help you learn about everything relating to ADHD and provide step-by-step methods for tackling life’s challenges.

Online Communities:

  1. ADHD Women’s Palooza – An online event bringing together women with ADHD to share experiences, insights, and advice.
  2. Reddit’s ADHD Women Community – A platform where women with ADHD can discuss their experiences and share advice and support.

Self-advocacy is essential for everyone but holds particular importance for women with ADHD. The challenges faced by women with ADHD in relationships, workplaces, and healthcare require asserting your needs and rights proactively and respectfully. 

By harnessing self-advocacy, women with ADHD can better navigate a world not designed for them and enrich it with their unique perspectives and talents.

By leveraging available resources like books, podcasts, and online communities, women with ADHD can gain the knowledge, skills, and support necessary to become effective self-advocates. This empowerment is a step towards ensuring their well-being, fulfillment, and success in every aspect of life.