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A.D.D – Communication, and Thought Processes

My children have A.D.D. It is a medical condition. I cannot get mad at them because their brain is not the way I would like it to be. I do not let them use it as a crutch because I want them to be all they can and not give up – blaming their difference. When they are small I do not even tell them they have a condition or what their medicine is for. In some ways it is better than being ‘normal’ if channelled correctly.

I also have A.D.D. It manifests itself a bit differently as an adult but the same behaviors exist. I think it is harder as an adult because society expects you to conform to their way of doing things that run contradictory to what your brain allows or you are labelled in unflattering ways. While I do agree that some of these traits are detrimental or not ideal, after decades of work I have only improved a little. There is an interesting correlation between A.D.D. and computer programming. At first it was an observation that while the general population has about 10% left-handed, my profession seemed to be well over 50% left handed. Then I noticed that 80-90% were highly musically inclined, playing music regularly. Then I noticed the A.D.D. and Aspburgers’. I do not know the percentage but it is high.

  • Difficulty staying focused while doing mundane tasks.
  • Quickly getting bored. If I am still for more than five minutes doing nothing and I am not vacationing in a chair by the water, check my pulse. If I sit down to rest, I will be reading articles on programming, programming something, paying bills, anything productive.
  • Prone to being intensely focused when performing complex tasks. It is called hyperfocus. When I get focused the world will often disappear. Hours can fly by. I have gone without meals, water, or bathroom breaks for 15 hours or more. You might call my name and I not hear it. This focus is what makes me very good at programming. Interrupting my focus prematurely causes me pain. I understand that life must occur and I want the distractions of my family and friends often times. It does however put a big stop to my productivity that can take a long time to regain. This condition is often the cause of work and relationship problems according to those who know. It certainly can cause some strain.
  • Zoning out, even in the middle of a conversation. Why? I do not know. It has nothing to do with you, usually. I try to stay with it but then … “squirrel!”
  • Difficulty listening or focusing while reading, listening, studying, etc. I want to focus. I actively try to focus but it gets away from me sometimes.
  • Struggling to complete tasks, even ones that seem simple. Once I have solved the problem I want to move on even if it is not fully implemented.
  • Extreme distractibility. So extreme. I often have to look up solutions, algorithms, and documentation. I have to be careful because these often cause me to be on StackOverflow.com, Reddit.com, Hacker News and I will keep reading other solutions, documentation addendum, comments on various workarounds and then that leads to tangents all over.
  • Disorganization and forgetfulness. Oh my goodness you do not even know. I am somewhat disorganized but I usually know where things are. Living with the ever neat & tidy Donna, who used to be OCD tidy, was quite the challenge the first few years and still has some friction. However, while the disorganization was manageable, the forgetfulness was not. It was so bad. I am better at remembering things now but only up to just functional. I really was not functioning for a long time.

As a child you often have visible signs that make it obvious to those around that you have A.D.D. Often adults will give them a little latitude. If they happen to say something that proves they missed a point, it will be lovingly repeated.

Adults do not show many outward signs and most people will not give you any room to be different than they expect you to be. I am called rude, insensitive, unloving, uncaring. People have likened me to a robot without emotion. The emotional issues, in my opinion, come from years of trying to deal with this condition and constantly being treated different because of it. I have extremely few friends who actually understand me.

Often times I am asked a question and I am silent – staring off or at you – for an awkwardly long time. I am truly sorry that I cannot give you a fast answer and I certainly won’t think to say I am thinking because I am already hyperfocused thinking through the question and looking for the answer. If I had thought it would take more than a second I would have said so. If I could stop thinking to say so I would.

Do you really think I want to ignore family and friends? I mentally berate myself every time I catch myself drifting. I don’t want to forget to do a chore because I want a kept home but yet I still forget. And then if I remember, or reminded, I gladly do it – welcoming the opportunity to shut down my mind a minute – but then it will become difficult to stay focused on and I get easily distracted. Then I have to yell at myself. Constantly. If I say something to you that you instinctively take in a negative way, consider what you would think if it were a text message. I often talk bluntly, use the wrong words, and without regard to nuance. Society seems to think that is normal for a text message.

I do not let myself off the hook for my disabilities. I have to succeed in spite of them. I also think that we all need to understand better that we are all not the same. We all communicate differently. We all think differently. We all have shortcomings. Put your personal biases of what is the “right” way to be aside when finding common ground. And please, if I have missed something you said, politely repeat yourself.

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