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ADHD and Decision Making Capacity

By Alia Butler ; Updated August 14, 2017

The inability to make good decisions is present in some people diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Although a person with ADHD may have problems making good decisions he does have the ability and intelligence to learn how to make good decisions if proper treatments and interventions are put in place.


ADHD can induce problems with judgment and social cues. A person with ADHD may experience a limited ability to read the social cues that are given off by their peers or co-workers. Often times ADHD will limit a person’s ability to be patient; thus, inducing her to push the rules or boundaries.


According to the America Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, teenagers with ADHD experience more problems driving, when compared to their driving peers who do not have ADHD; they are involved in four times more accidents and three times more speeding tickets. Teens with ADHD can become easily distracted while driving and may make poor decisions with regards to safe driving behaviors, such as driving to fast or driving aggressively when angered by other drivers.


According to National Institute of Mental Health, some people with ADHD go undiagnosed or are diagnosed incorrectly; the behavior problems that can be associated with the hyperactive-impulsive type of ADHD, at times, go undiagnosed because the person is thought to just have emotional or disciplinary problems.

Also, people with ADHD tend to make poor decisions when it comes to financial matters. The lack of attention to detail, ability to finish tasks and impulsiveness leads some people with ADHD to experience financial problems. A person with ADHD may forget to pay his bills on time or go on impulsive spending sprees.


Treatment for ADHD with lack of decision making skills will focus on reducing the symptoms of ADHD, which will in turn improve the person’s ability to make good decisions. Medications will be used to suppress some of the person’s symptoms of ADHD, which will improve a person’s ability to concentrate and focus while reducing her hyperactivity. Psychoeducation will help her understand her disorder and how she has to take actions that overcompensate for the symptoms of ADHD that lead to poor decision making. Depending on the individual social skills training, individual therapy and family therapy may be incorporated into treatment.


Making good decisions is important for a person with ADHD because it can help him experience success in relationships, finances, careers and academics. There are certain things a person can do to help improve his decision making skills. When making decisions ask others that are trusted for advice. Avoid making quick or hasty decisions. Find ways keep from engaging in impulsive decisions. Be accountable for actions and decisions; do not try to make excuses or state that someone else was responsible. Ask for feedback about decisions or behaviors from co-workers, family or friends and accept what they have to say.

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