Cam Gott’s Hierarchy of ADHD Needs
Adapted from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Often individuals attempt to manage their ADHD by first trying to mitigate symptoms like distractibility and impulsivity. Focusing on identifying and attending to a hierarchy of ADHD needs is a more proactive way to manage ADHD and have a bigger impact. The following diagram illustrates some examples of needs unique to the ADHD individual. Pondering your own specific needs for each level can be a useful exercise.
This hierarchy of ADHD needs is not a substitute for the original Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Rather, it is designed to augment the original work.
Physiological ADHD Needs
ADHD needs start with basic brain management. What is your unique combination for optimal physiological functioning?
Safety ADHD Needs
Living from crisis to crisis creates a mounting stress load that becomes untenable. Your limbic system needs an occasional break. Stress management - identify those repetitive items that create stress and hatch a plan to address head on. Avoidance and procrastination are not your friends here.
Belongingness and Love ADHD Needs
ADHD can have an isolating effect. Furthermore, you can often feel like you have to be inauthentic to be socially accepted. Getting to be who you are and be accepted has a healing effect. Boundary management can be a challenge but with practice you can have healthier relationships.
Esteem ADHD Needs
ADHD disrupts action but to have a sense of accomplishment you have to accomplish. To accomplish (and finish) you have to do. To do you have to prioritize and start. Practicing in areas of strength is a place to begin. Positive support structures are key like accountability partners. Furthermore, challenging your own ‘Inner-Critic’ and their biting commentary is essential to fostering sense of self and identify. Personal core value identification is a good practice.
Self-Actualization ADHD Needs
Having a bigger impact lives here. People with ADHD are wired for context – a sense of connection to something meaningful and bigger than the self. To be ADHD is to be creative and expressive. You need not be the loudest to have a big impact.