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How to Successfully Navigate Executive Function Challenges When Booking Doctor Appointments for ADHDers

Booking a doctor's appointment can seem like a simple task to neurotypicals, but for individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it can present a significant challenge due to all of the executive functions involved. As someone deeply familiar with ADHD both personally and professionally, I understand firsthand the challenges that can arise when faced with tasks requiring organization, planning, and follow-through.

Just yesterday, I experienced the familiar struggle of booking my 2-year-old daughter's first dentist appointment. Despite my expertise in ADHD management, the act of scheduling this seemingly routine appointment proved daunting. It's a scenario that might surprise some, considering my background and knowledge. But therein lies the complexity of ADHD – even with the tools and strategies at my disposal, certain tasks can still pose difficulties.

Typically, I employ proactive measures to mitigate these challenges. I often schedule appointments while still at the doctor's office, eliminating the need to deal with all of the executive function power later on. However, this appointment was her first, so there was no "scheduling at the office before I left."

In my recent experience, it was the understanding and supportive approach of my daughter's pediatrician that made all the difference. Rather than chastising me for not yet scheduling the dentist appointment, she recognized the inherent difficulties of ADHD and offered a collaborative solution. "How about we make a deal?" she proposed. "When you return for her two-and-a-half-year appointment, let's ensure her dentist appointment is booked."

This simple proposition carried immense weight. By introducing external accountability into the equation, the pressure to fulfill this obligation became tangible. Suddenly, the task at hand shifted from a daunting responsibility to a concrete commitment that we both had ownership of.

The concept of external accountability is a powerful tool in managing ADHD-related executive function challenges. For individuals with ADHD, the presence of external structures, such as deadlines, commitments, or agreements with others, can serve as effective scaffolding for task completion. This is particularly true when traditional internal mechanisms, such as self-motivation and self-regulation, prove challenging.

In my case, the agreement with my daughter's pediatrician provided the right framework for me to overcome a task that required multiple executive functions. Knowing that I had committed to a specific deadline and that someone else was counting on me made me do it.

This experience underscores the importance of empathy and understanding in healthcare settings, especially when working with individuals with ADHD. Rather than dismissing or admonishing patients for perceived shortcomings in executive function, healthcare providers can play a crucial role in offering support, accommodations, and collaborative solutions. We can also share our need for external accountability with those we trust to ensure we work together.

Moreover, it highlights the need for greater awareness and education surrounding ADHD and its impact on daily functioning. By fostering a culture of acceptance and accommodation, we can create environments where individuals with ADHD feel empowered to seek the assistance they need without fear of judgment or stigma.

I know to some, booking a doctor's appointment may seem like a mundane, simple task, but for individuals with ADHD, it can represent a significant hurdle due to the planning, scheduling, back-and-forth communication, paperwork, organization, time management, decision making, and working memory, My recent experience serves as a reminder of the power of external accountability in overcoming these obstacles. By embracing empathy, understanding, and collaborative problem-solving, we can create a more inclusive and supportive culture for individuals with ADHD and other neurodiverse conditions.

Rooting for You,


Are you a high-achieving adult looking for more tools, structure, and accountability, to calm the chaos of your ADHD brain, build consistency in your habits and routines, and live a more confident life? Check out our signature process and program 3C Activation starting soon.

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