Inside The Head Of Someone With ADHD
Woman says her ADHD diagnosis is often misunderstood
I had the opportunity to speak to a friend, who is in her late 20s, about what it is like to be an adult with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). She was diagnosed six months before we spoke.
She describes herself as a high energy person who may lose her train of thought or has conversations about everything at the same time with friends. She really wishes she had been diagnosed earlier as she finds breaking bad habits much harder than creating new, good ones!
Her ADHD diagnosis came about as she was slightly anxious all the time and sought psychological counselling. Her psychologist noted that she was constantly distracted by a ticking clock in the room.
Subsequent testing led to the diagnosis of ADHD. She and her family doctor struggled to find the right dose of medication; so she asked to see a psychiatrist who confirmed the ADHD diagnosis and adjusted her medication correctly.
She further describes ADHD as being controlled by external prompts with a deficiency in internal prompts and how to best process information from the world around her. Her biggest issue is that ADHD is often misunderstood, which is why she doesn’t reveal her diagnosis to anyone but her closest friends and family.
She encourages parents, teachers, occupational therapists and other health professionals along with people with ADHD to read, learn and research ADHD to better understand it. It isn’t as simple as saying someone with ADHD doesn’t pay attention well. She describes being unable to attend to the proper or expected events or issues that need attention in order to finish the task at hand or meet the deadline.
For example, when she’s getting ready to leave the house at a certain time, she may notice her makeup brushes should be cleaned and start doing that immediately, instead of thinking,“Do I have time to do this right now?”
The right external prompts are so important. Medication has been helpful; she describes her life before medication as always being late with an inability to be punctual despite the best of intentions. And she always felt bad about herself because she does care what her friends, family and colleagues think.
When completing projects or papers for school she would procrastinate to the last minute and then pull off an all nighter because she had no choice and would have to focus and get it done. She says people with ADHD have time blindness – a poor concept of time passing and judgment as to how long it takes to accomplish a task.
Medication allows her to complete a task without distracting thoughts. Beforehand her thought pattern was more like a spider’s web and now it is like a straight line.
Her take-home message to parents, teachers, health professionals, kids, teens and other adults with ADHD: get help and develop good time-habits instead of developing and practising bad ones. Learn and teach how to find an optimal attention span; and take a break before attention wanders. She emphasizes that skills need to be taught. She knows what she should do, wants to do it, and feels bad when she doesn’t; now she realizes she had to be taught and to learn how to do it.
When there is no immediate consequence for a bad habit, find an external cue or impose a motivating consequence. She now has a clock in every room in her house.
Medication isn’t going to cure ADHD, although sometimes she thinks parents, educators and people with ADHD think it is. Medication is one tool in her tool box. Self-awareness, time management strategies, building in external cues, and learning new, good habits have helped her live a wonderful life that includes ADHD.
Do you have a child with a Learning Disability like ADHD? Are you a teacher of students with Learning Disabilities like ADHD? Find occupational therapy help in my eBook.