When I was diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at 22, I finally made sense of my unique behaviors and thought patterns. For years, I had struggled with remembering simple tasks, rejection sensitivity, and maintaining focus without knowing they were symptoms of something bigger. While having an official diagnosis has helped explain some of my unique quirks, actually managing the symptoms of ADHD has been a battle of its own.
That battle is shared among the nearly 16 million adults in the United States who have ADHD. Some of the most common hurdles for adults with ADHD include “anything that involves multi-step directions or anything that involves not having structure or guidelines,” says ADHD psychotherapist Stephanie Sarkis, PhD. “Executive functions in the frontal lobe of the brain are impaired, and that includes organization, planning, forward thought, mood regulation.”
If you have a loved one in your life that has ADHD, you may find yourself trying to brainstorm gift ideas for them as the holidays approach. Thankfully, there’s loads of genius products on the market that can make life easier for those of us with ADHD. If you’re looking for practical gift ideas for the adult with ADHD in your life, look no further! Read on to check out our favorite gift ideas that can make everyday life a whole lot easier.
19 Useful Gift Ideas for Adults with ADHD
Forgetting to prepare an outfit the night before can cause a lot of stress right before a big event. Suited for a wide range of fabrics, this high-volume handheld steamer can knock out wrinkles in a pinch during last-minute outfit changes. Perfect for travel, this portable steamer can be taken on the go for business trips or vacations and holds enough water to steam without stopping for 15 minutes at a time.
“They’re great, and I take them with me when I travel,” says Matlen. “I always have one on hand.”
Exercise has become a tried-and-true treatment for improving executive function in adults with ADHD. While we already know that getting in a few thousand steps everyday can boost your mood and reduce stress, evidence suggests it could also reduce impulsivity, increase attention, and manage hyperactivity in adults with ADHD.
“Exercise helps boost the levels of dopamine and serotonin, which we are low in with ADHD,” says Sarkis. “Even exercising for about 15 minutes helps boost executive function performance.”
This under-desk treadmill is a fantastic option for ADHD pals who work from home or live in smaller homes. It’s incredibly thin and can be easily stored underneath a bed, in a closet, or behind a desk. Its speed can be adjusted via remote as well as an in-treadmill sensor that allows you to switch up the speed by pressing on the front of the track.
On a personal note, my boyfriend (who also has ADHD) uses his walking treadmill every day while working from home and absolutely loves it. Being able to move while working has improved his focus tenfold.
The Tile Mate tracking system is an absolute must for forgetful ADHD adults such as myself. Simply stick the teeny tracking devices on your most important belongings —keys, phone, wallet, planner— and use the Tile app for a constant view of their location. Tile will ring the individual tracker when you’ve lost an item, using sound to help guide you to where you last placed it. As far as useful ADHD gifts go, this one is hard to beat.
Matlen adds that this gift was a game-changer for her daughter. “Of all the things I’ve given to help her over the years, she’s now got Tiles on everything,” adds Matlen. “A lot of people with ADHD lose things, and it’s extremely frustrating when you put your keys down and can’t find them. They’re exceptional and very helpful.”
For many adults with ADHD (myself included), anxiety and ADHD seem to be a package deal. Cuddling up with a weighted blanket can soothe anxious sleepers and provide comfort that alleviates external stressors. “It’s a great thing for anxiety and ADHD hyperactivity,” says Matlen, “and what’s nice about those is they work for all ages.”
The chunky knit of Bearaby’s Knitted Cotton Napper disguises the weight of the blanket within; while other weighted blankets can be bulky and obvious, this one is stylish in its own right.
As someone with ADHD, I can’t fall asleep without something playing in the background. I’ve caught a lot of flack with past partners for my need to have a fan going 24/7—yes, even in the winter—but without some type of background noise, sleep eludes me. Since our minds are constantly buzzing with new thoughts, having an outside form of background noise can help quiet the noise inside our brains.
“I think part of [why they help] is because of our racing thoughts,” says Matlen. “It helps us take the focus away internally of what’s bothering us, what we did wrong, what we need to do tomorrow; it’s soothing.”
The HoMedics white noise machine comes with six different soothing sound options: white noise, thunder, rain, brook, summer night, and ocean. It comes equipped with a wide volume range and an auto-off timer with options to shut off after 15, 30, or 60 minutes. Bonus: this little machine is completely portable and small enough to throw in a purse or backpack, making it a great travel companion.
Keeping all important items in one central, permanent place is key for managing ADHD forgetfulness. This wall-mounted entryway organizer from West Elm is not only practical, but absolutely gorgeous. Three key hooks, a mail holder, two coat hooks, and a display shelf make this the perfect one-stop catchall for keys, bills, sunglasses, and umbrellas.
As with the entryway organizer above, this handy organizer can tidy up even the most cluttered spaces. Whether it’s used for beauty products or office supplies, there are plenty of compartments and drawers for otherwise scattered items to find a home. Plus, it’s available in three color options.
This handy planner made our list of 7 Best Intention-Setting Journals, and with good reason. The Panda Planner is non-dated, meaning your loved one with ADHD can pick up where they left off after a prolonged lapse of use without having to toss it out for a new one. This planner includes morning check-ins, weekly reviews, goal-setting sections, and priority lists, allowing the user to compartmentalize different ideas and tasks.
Making lists can be a helpful way to keep your ducks in a row each day. While you can certainly make a list on any old piece of paper, these notecards come with pre-drawn lines so you can fill out your daily tasks and tick them off as they’re completed (so satisfying). Plus, they come with a lovely wooden stand that keeps your checklist in view and looks great on any desk or kitchen counter.
For those of us with ADHD who need a little more help remembering to-do lists or doctor appointments, an in-home companion like Alexa can be a lifesaver. Alexa can set calendar reminders for appointments, create grocery lists, set morning alarms, find your phone when you’ve misplaced it, create calendar events, and answer random questions when curiosity strikes.
You can also purchase a set of Alexa-compatible smart bulbs to accompany Alexa, allowing you to dim the lights in your home to avoid over-stimulating bright lights. I personally use my Alexa every single day to turn lights on and off via voice command, an especially helpful feature when I’ve curled up in bed and forgotten to turn off a light across the room.
Trust me when I say that cleaning is quite possibly *the* most daunting task for someone with ADHD to take on. Messy rooms are incredibly overwhelming, and vacuuming an entire house alone can feel impossible. Adding a Roomba into the mix has been an absolute game changer for our ADHD household.
This handy robot vacuum learns your cleaning habits over time, and will offer up a vacuuming schedule that fits in with your daily routine. You can control this Roomba directly from your smartphone and with Alexa, giving you hands-free vacuuming control. The best part is that it automatically recharges; after its run time, this little robot will take itself back to the charging station.
“I’ll do it tomorrow” has become a recurring phrase in my household. There’s never a shortage of things that need to get done around the house, but with a busy work schedule, taking care of these to-dos can seem impossible.
With TaskRabbit, you can hire a handyman, personal shopper, mover, or maid cleaning service to knock out a task that’s been weighing heavy on your loved one’s shoulders. Taking care of an exhausting responsibility like moving items to a storage unit, organizing a closet, or even mounting a television is an incredible gift for someone with ADHD.
As mentioned at the end of this article, keep in mind that some adults with ADHD battle with guilt about not keeping up with household duties, especially cleaning. Matlen says that choosing the right delivery is key.
“This is a great gift as long as you explain it in a kind, tender way,” says Matlen. “It’s how you present it, really.”
While colorful fidget spinners and sensory slimes are great gifts for children with ADHD, working adults with ADHD may need something a bit more discreet for everyday use. These fidget rings spin when you run your thumb across the top, allowing for less-than-obvious fidgeting. Plus, they’re stainless steel, meaning they won’t turn your fingers green after a handful of wears.
Having multiple USB charging ports in one place can take the guesswork out of locating missing block wall ports. This charging station comes with six individual ports as well as charging stands to keep your phones and tablets in a neat, upright row. Plus, the Powstick Charging Station already comes equipped with six eight-inch charging cables: two lightning cables, two micro USB cables, and a Type-C cable.
Staying focused during work can prove to be difficult for adults with ADHD. While music can help us get in a work groove, background noises can pull our attention away from the task at hand, making it even more difficult to maintain focus. Noise-canceling headphones like these can block out external auditory stimuli, helping us stay zeroed in on projects.
“So many people with ADHD have a hard time filtering out extraneous sounds and noises,” says Matlen.
The revolutionary Sony WH-1000XM4 overhead headphones come equipped with dual noise sensor technology, which detects ambient noise around you using outward-facing microphones and uses a noise-canceling processor to eliminate environmental sounds.
I previously sang this little device’s praises in a separate Well+Good article for its ingenious design. Forgetting to take medication is a shared struggle amongst adults with ADHD, and this tool takes the second-guessing out of the equation. Instead of using a bulky medication organizer, simply stick one of these Take-n-Slide trackers on the side of your prescription bottle and tick off the days of the week as you take your medication. This small gift can have a huge positive impact on daily life, making it a smart stocking stuffer or gift bag add-on.
As mentioned above, some people with ADHD suffer from rejection sensitivity, an intense emotional pain linked to failing or feeling like a failure. Rejection sensitivity can make people with ADHD feel like they’re not living up to their full potential, or letting down their loved ones. These “I Know” affirmation cards contain positive, uplifting messages of reassurance. When you’re worried the whole world is against you, little reminders like these can have a profound positive impact.
Alright—hear me out. This is a judgment-free zone, and as such, I feel comfortable enough to call myself out on this one. I am that person who has a million half-empty glasses of water around their house, and I wholeheartedly blame my ADHD. Because of my forgetfulness, I usually end up dumping them out due to fear of bacteria growth.
This fancy water bottle is insulated and cleans itself using UV rays every four hours, stopping bacteria in its tracks. The CrazyCap water bottle uses same ultraviolet light used for sanitation in operating rooms and is certified by the National Sanitation Foundation for disinfection performance.
This is an especially smart gift for your eco-conscious pals with ADHD: one of these reusable water bottles has the lifespan to replace over 500,000 plastic water bottles.
Those of us with ADHD tend to have short, explosive bursts of motivation and creativity rather than a steady stream of focused thought. As such, breaking up large tasks into smaller ones can make projects more manageable. ‘I want to write more’ can be a vague, daunting goal for someone with ADHD.
The Five-Minute Journal allows you to get your creative juices flowing via short writing prompts. The short amount of lines under each one reinforces that your time answering can be short and sweet; no pressure to fill up lengthy, empty pages with coherent thoughts. Bonus: it’s aesthetically pleasing, making a great home decor addition.
Tending to plants has been proven to alleviate stress and anxiety. Remembering to water them, however, is a task easier said than done for adults with ADHD. Self-watering planters like this chic one from The Sill work by separating water from the plant until it gets thirsty again, taking the guesswork out of plant maintenance.
“I don’t know too many people who have ADHD who don’t kill their plants,” jokes Matlen.
Things to consider when buying a gift for someone with ADHD
If you’re looking to find a gift for someone with ADHD that they’ll want to use again and again, quality and function should be at the forefront. Many adults with ADHD (myself included) struggle with disorganization and clutter. When picking out a gift, look for items that add value to your loved one’s space.
Something else to keep in mind is that many adults with ADHD deal with hypersensitivity, anxiety, and rejection sensitive dysphoria (an extreme emotional sensitivity that can trigger intense feelings of rejection). Psychotherapist, author, and nationally-recognized ADHD expert Terry Matlen, LMSW, says that while certain practical gifts (like hiring a cleaning service) may seem thoughtful to you, they may come off as an attack or criticism to someone with ADHD.
For years now, Matlen has chronicled her personal journey as a mom with ADHD for ADDitude, an online media network that educates its readers about the disorder.
“You have to be really careful not to give someone a gift that is actually criticizing and undermining their ADHD,” says Matlen. “Be particularly sensitive about what areas the person that you're buying for might feel hurt. A big piece of ADHD, especially in women, is shame. You don't want to get them something that will make them feel even more shame.”
Keeping these things in mind, it is possible to give fabulous, practical gifts to loved ones with ADHD. Matlen says to stay focused on useful gifts that inspire hope, and deliver them from a place of love, not condescension.
“Look for what appeals to their strengths and their interests and their curiosity and their hope for help, where they're not going to feel criticized,” says Matlen.
If you’re still stumped on what your loved one with ADHD might like, consider asking them outright, or listing their interests and passions. It’s important to remember that people with ADHD are more than their diagnosis.
“I think it's important to ask somebody with ADHD what they would like as a gift,” adds Sarkis, “because ADHD is just part of who they are. Not all of who they are.”
- Mehren, A., Reichert, M., Coghill, D., Müller, H. H. O., Braun, N., & Philipsen, A. (2020). Physical exercise in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – evidence and implications for the treatment of borderline personality disorder. Borderline personality disorder and emotion dysregulation, 7, 1. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40479-019-0115-2
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