You know how it feels when you're leaning back in your chair and its just about to fall over?
. . . I feel like that all the time!
Living on the edge of distraction
c 1996 Bob Seay--
permission is hereby given to quote this work, all or in part,
provided appropriate credit is given. If you make any money..I want some!!!
Anyone who has researched ADD at all knows about distractability, impulsivity and hyperactivity. But how do these traits translate into everyday life?
Here is a list of some basic traits of ADDers. You may click on any item in the list for a more detailed discription
The ADD person also makes great
websites about ADD.
Check out ADD on the Mining Co.
It is no easier to generalize ADDers than it would be any other group of 10-20 million people. These "traits" are based on observations of ADDers I have known and are offered here only as a way to provide some vocabulary for those who might wish to express how they feel, as well as comfort for those who need reassurance that they are not alone. They are in no way intended to be any type of diagnostic tool. (Isn't it somehow flattering to read something in a book and to be able to say "That's me! I am exactly like that!" It's the same type of gratification through literature that compels people to look up their own name when the new phone books come out each year.)
On the other hand, if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck ... Maybe it should go to the vet to see if its a duck.
1. The ADDer is unable to get organized.For a child, this might mean that he can't find his pencil, or his homework or his coat or anything else that isn't attached to his little body. In fact, sometimes even having the object attached to his body is not enough!
In adults there are more serious complications. We can't find the checkbook. We lose cash and credit cards. I keep my driver's license in the ashtray of my car after being ticketed for driving without a license more times than I care to remember.
If ever lost, the ADDer is easily tracked by the trail of clutter left in his wake. Our offices are "organized" not by files, but in piles. In short, the chaos of ADD thinking and thought processes is made manifest in his physical environment.
The converse side of this disorganization is that ADDers tend to be pack rats. Having often been in the position of needing something but being unable to find it, we may reach a point of never throwing anything away because "you never know when you might just need that." Of course, it could be argued that putting something in a trashcan is in itself an act of organization, which further explains this pack rat phenomena. This contributes to the clutter and makes organization even more impossible.
2. The ADDer is easily distracted.An ADDer may enter the kitchen with the intention of making of making a sandwich for the kids. As he walks to the stove, he sees a bottle of Pepsi on the counter and decides to have a drink. As he is pouring, he sees the morning paper and starts to read. Maybe he spies an open bag of chips to munch on. He then carries the drink, chips and paper to the table to read but can't sit down because there is unfolded laundry in the chair (how did that get here?!). He then begins folding laundry, but first calls a friend to talk to while doing this arduous chore. After dialing, he notices that the dishes in the dishwasher are clean, so he begins to unload the dishwasher. Thirty minutes later, when the kids come in and ask for lunch, he will start this process over again.
You can substitute money for time and get the general idea of what happens when an ADDer has to make a financial decision. Such is the life of an ADDer.
In conversation, such easy distractibility is misconstrued as inattentativness, or worse. The wife of an ADDer may be pouring out her heart about what a bad day she had at work, only to hear a response of "Did you know you have a stain on that shirt?". The wounded spouse then accuses the ADDer of not listening, so the ADDer repeats back everything that she said just to prove that he, in fact, was listening, and "listening has nothing to do with the fact that you still have a stain on that shirt, and by the way, what should we have for dinner?", so she accuses him of not caring about her day... You get the picture.
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3. The life of an ADDer may be marked by chronic underachievement.It is not unusual to find ADDers with measured IQs of 120, 130 or even higher still working for minimum wage at entry level jobs even into their 40's or older. This would be all right if they indeed found satisfaction in these positions, but after several years of being paid and treated like a teenager, it can get frustrating. We watch as our friends advance, get promotions, move into nicer homes and more adult like lifestyles, and we stay behind. These employment frustration often spill over as marital and family difficulties as well.
The ADDer may be underemployed because he lacks the organizational skills to advance. However, in many situations, the ADDer has chosen underemployment as a way of avoiding yet another failure. The old adage "nothing ventured, nothing gained" becomes "nothing ventured, nothing lost" in the mind of an ADDer. He had his share of failure all through school and doesn't care to repeat the experience. Regardless of his intelligence, talent or ability, the ADDer often doesn't trust himself to be able to advance. His potential is limited by his perception.
Despite this low risk style of career management, these people still tend to have a high turn over in employment. The restlessness of ADD, combined with the frustration and boredom of doing the same job for years, becomes too much, and they go in search of something "better", or at least "different". More often than not, they will return to the security of the low skill, low risk, and low pay job.
In other cases, underacheivment is simply caused by a lack of follow through. One ADD man I know invented a new widget of some kind. He then became almost obsessed with the idea of getting a patent for this invention. After borrowing $1800 for development and registration, he received his patent. It is now framed and hangs in his home. He never sought to market the idea or to develop it any further.
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4. The ADDer has difficulty prioritizing his time, attention and resources.In researching this book, I have had to read a lot of material, some of which was useful, some of which was not. Had I included every pertinent fact relating to ADD from every available resource, you would hold in our hands a tome of encyclopedic volume. I have had to make decisions about what to include and what to omit. I have had to decide what fits and what doesn't. Thankfully, I will have several people read this to help me with those tasks.
In the real world, we can't always depend on someone else to help us decide what is important and what is not. Face it, we wouldn't want to be around such a person. In the mind of the ADDer, all things are just about equal. Someone coughing during a concert receives just as much attention as the music you paid to hear.
Just as it is difficult to prioritize input from the world around us, it is also difficult to prioritize tasks and expectations. For a number of reasons (desires for approval, stimulation, etc.), the ADDer will many times overextend himself on commitments of time and money. Certainly, ADDers are not the only people who over commit to things. But because almost everything about an ADD person is marked by an intensity that goes beyond the experience of those around him, the ADD individual will overextend himself more quickly than most. Further, in cases which are undiagnosed or untreated, he will not understand why others around him don't share his priorities or commitment. This leads to a misperception on his part that he is doing "All the work" and a frustration with those who don't seem to be. To be fair, the ADDer in this situation probably is doing "more work" on a specific project than those around him. Unfortunately, he often lets everything else slide. And the cost of that work, in terms of his health, his family and other relationships, is astounding.
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5. The ADDer will often have several projects going at once.This relates back to the inability to prioritize. Because the ADDer is able to focus (except in hyper focus mode) on any given project for a limited amount of time, he will often have a variety of unrelated projects in various stages of completion going simultaneously. In fairness to the ADDer, these projects may only appear to be unrelated. Since the ADD mind sees connections that many others can't, it is quite possible that he has tied all of these seemingly unrelated activities together into one mass project. ADDers tend to view everything as part of a greater whole, and their life and activities are no difference.
It is also just as possible that these activities are exactly what they appear to be- totally unrelated whims of a stimulus seeking ADDer.
My grandfather used to say "If you want something done, get a busy man to do it". This holds true for many ADDers. They tend to work best when there is a lot going on, provided they don't overload and max out. By having several projects going at once, the ADD is making the most of his tendency to be easily distracted. The fast paced, packed schedule of this type of individual allows him to spend a little time with each task- not enough to get bored with any one operation. To the casual observer, it may seem that the overall productivity of the ADDer would rise if he would learn to do only one thing at a time. But this type of highly motivated ADDer actually does perform best when he is going from task to task. By "stacking" his work in such a way that when one thing is finished there are five more to take its place, the ADDer is able to avoid some of his "completion anxiety".
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6. The ADDer has trouble with follow through and completion of tasks.This is closely related to #5 above. With so many projects going at once, the ADDer has trouble giving adequate time and attention to any one of them. He is also likely to get distracted at any time and never get back to the original purpose of what he was working on.
Boredom is intolerable to the majority of ADDers. In fact, ADDers seldom experience boredom because their attention naturally gets diverted away towards some new area. This is especially frustrating when the ADDer truly wants to complete a task, but finds his mind drifting away on tangents or being distracted by any number of competing stimuli, such as extraneous sound, or even something as seemingly insignificant as the way his shirt feels against his skin.
Remember that sometimes, either consciously or on an unconscious level, an ADDer does not want the project to be over and will avoid completion. These ADDers love the process more than the product. Having a goal gives us focus, a truly holy grail which the ADDer is constantly in search of. Reaching the goal means that focus is gone. For these individuals, the joy is not in the destination, but in the journey. Having accomplished what he set out to do, the goal itself becomes anti-climatic, an unfortunate side effect of the true purpose, the journey. Again, I refer you to the story of my friend's patent above.
This trait of avoiding completion doesn't mean that the ADDer cannot make significant contributions to large projects. You can make this work to your advantage. One ADDer I know loves to write, but is no good at rewriting or editing his work. He also tends to avoid completing reports and really has no concept of deadlines. (I also firmly believe that no work is complete until the writer is dead.) However, his written communication skills are excellent
His supervisor recognizes his ability to write. She also recognizes his weaknesses in organization and deadlines. A smart woman, this supervisor makes the most use of the ADDers talents without risking important deadlines. How?She makes the reports an immediate priority, often giving next day deadlines when practical and never more than a few days notice at best. These deadlines are always far enough in advance of HER deadline that she has time to make her own commitments. This capitalizes on the ADDers tendency to work best under pressure.
She tells the ADDer that she wants everything that he can write about the subject at hand, and provides outlines or guides if possible or if the document needs to be in a specific format.
She makes the ADDer feel as though what he is doing is important and that it is important that he does it. In this case, it is true. This ADDer is a good writer.
After receiving the report from the ADDer , she edits and finishes the document.
Some of the more rigid among us might balk at this, saying that it is ridiculous for someone to have to complete the "homework" of a grown man. However, his supervisor doesn't feel that way. She would rather be able to assign this work to him, with the knowledge that she will have to edit and finish it, than have to write the entire report by herself. She also recognizes that this ADDer is a stronger and more effective written communicator than she. For the supervisor, it is just a good means of maximizing efficiency. It's just good business.
More typically, however, the scenario is like this:Sue, an adult ADDer who sings with the worship team in her church, wants to have a more active role in the music ministry. The pastor is sensitive to this, so he asks her to pick out the songs for next Sunday's worship service, a small responsibility, but one that Sue feels is important. In fact, she feels honored. On Friday, the church secretary calls to see if Sue has the list yet, which of course she does not. Sue promises to have the list in time. She also volunteers to do the list herself on her home computer so the secretary won't have to type it up. (This particular church uses song sheet handouts which are typed up for each week.)
By Saturday evening, Sue has it ready. She calls the secretary to tell her that the list is done, only to be told that the pastor had given up on her and done it himself. Sue feels that she missed her opportunity to contribute. To make matters worse, when she offers to give the list to the pastor on Sunday so it could be used next week, she is told that it will be someone else's turn next week.
Sue feels guilty and ashamed. The pastor gives a yet another lecture on responsibility.
Unfortunately, there is no one to give the pastor a lecture on love, compassion or patience.
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7. ADDers tend to engage in high risk activities more often and with less concern than their non-ADD friends.We tend to drive too fast, to push the limits too far and too often. We seem to seek out the thrill of a near death experience. Or perhaps its because we don't stop to consider all of the risks involved. In any case, this can be one of the most life threatening aspects of having ADD. We tend to be gamblers, both in the game room and in life.
High risk equals high stimulation, and high stim equals (you guessed it) high focus. Driving your car 90 mph is a focused experience. There may even be biological reasons for these dangerous activities, as chemicals produced by the brain flood through us in times of such high stimulation.
Sadly, these high risk behaviors often include substance abuse. ADDers tend to have more problems with addictive behaviors than most. Some of these addictions are crude attempts at self medication, with the goal not of ADD management, but simply to take away the pain of failure and frustration. Some are simply thrill seeking experiments gone bad.
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8. Just like kids, ADDers will "say the darndest things". (Thank you, Art Linkletter. What ever happened to him anyway?)The impulsivity which defeats the inhibitions of squirming and other classic hyperactive behaviors defeats the inhibitions that govern speech as well. The ADDer is likely to say anything that comes to mind. This can be very interesting, extremely funny, and also very embarrassing.
I really like the music of Billy Joel. (Hey, I'm allowed to have a few vices.) One Sunday after church, My wife and I were walking into the restaurant for lunch, and the background music was of a Billy Joel song, "Shameless". Great tune. Then the vocal came on, and it was some country-western singer (somebody named Garth something) doing a remake. I literally said out loud, apparently too out loud, "UGHH! WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO THIS TUNE?!" This embarrassed her, made people look at me, further cemented the notion that I somehow don't respect the local culture (which apparently holds this Garth person in high esteem), and apparently had all kinds of far reaching implications. As I recall, the earth actually reversed its rotation momentarily.
If you want an honest opinion, just ask an ADDer!
While this is a funny example, this blurting out can be a real problem. The ADDer may reveal things about himself that he later wishes he hadn't. He may voice opinions that may offend others.
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9. The ADD person is not very punctual. He is either consistently late or early- - very early.Time is the canvass that holds the paintings of our lives.
For most of us, a good analogy of this would be a comic strip. I prefer to think of my own life as a comic strip in the Sunday paper because I like color. Our entire life is shown in the strip, which is then handily divided into little boxes, each representing some unit of time. On one extreme, you have God, who can see the entire strip at once just because he's God and just because he can. At the other extreme, you have the ADDer, whose copy of the Sunday morning funny pages somehow didn't quite come off the press just right. The boxes are colorful enough, they just aren't in the right order. They seem to overlap and smear together, or they look like some 20th century cubist painting, as if Charlie Brown were suddenly being drawn by Picasso. (Actually, the ultimate ADD comic strip was "Calvin and Hobbes", which was often drawn in just such a style and often could have been a page right out of an ADD life. Come back, Calvin! We miss you!)
Basically, the entire concept of time is a priority system. Most people can mentally arrange events in terms of past, present and future. All of us can experience time travel, of a sort. By recalling an event , we can experience the sights, sounds, and other sensations of a fondly remembered summer evening. It's cliché, but true: God gave us memory so we can smell roses in December.
Most folks can anticipate expected events and can gauge how far into the future these events will occur by using a clock or a calendar. Such prioritizing is precisely what the ADD brain is not designed to do. As Dr. Ed Hallowell said "Time parcels moments out into separate bits so that we can do one thing at a time. In ADD, this does not happen. Time becomes a black hole. To the person who has ADD it feels as if everything is happening all at once." (Hallowell, Newsletter of the Concord Special Education Parent Advisory Council, 1993, Concord, MA)
Hallowell's "black hole" of time has much farther reaching implications than simply arriving late for work. Planning involves estimating how long it is until something happens; having some kind of "feel" of how long an hour or a week is. While the average person hears a countdown as "10, 9, 8, 7, etc., the ADDer might as well hear "10, 9. 100, 4, 3, 16, 0 Blastoff!". The ADDer simply does not have the ability to accurately judge distances where time is concerned. He has a poorer short term memory than most people, which can make recent memories "feel" like memories of long ago, and vice-versa. Without a dependable feel for the past, he has no dependable yardstick with which to gauge the future. He may try to guess, but since guessing again involves memory, he may not be very accurate. He even has trouble estimating how much time has past during an activity, especially in hyper-focus.
So, on the first day of a new job, the ADDer is likely to show up literally one hour early for work. This really impresses the boss. Of course, on the next day, when he's running through the door ten minutes late, the boss is not so impressed.
10. ADDers behave as if the rules don't apply to them.This is the one that seems to really get to non-ADDers the most.
It's not so much that the rules don't apply as they just aren't remembered. If they are remembered at all, they aren't internalized very well. Often, because of blinking or other processing problems, the ADDer may not be completely aware of the rules. At other times, procrastination causes him to miss deadlines. Because of the unique ADD perception of time, deadlines that others see coming from a distance may hit the ADDer head on without much advance warning. His search for novel ways of doing things may cause him to circumvent standard procedures.
In other cases, the ADDer may simply be complying to his own "script" for his life. The script for the ADDer has him in the role of the "absent minded professor", and calls for him to be unorganized, chronically late, and forgetful. This is the role which he has performed all of his life, and he has received much attention and reinforcement (both positive and negative) for it. Thus, he has become typecast in his own mind.
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11. ADDers may seem extremely insecure.The ADDer often puts less faith in himself than do those around him. Because of his low self-esteem, he is usually genuinely surprised to discover how much influence he has in the opinions and even lives of others. He may not understand why someone would love him, and is therefore doubtful that they really do. He doubts that many ideas he may have could be useful.
You hear ADDers say "I don't know" a lot when asked how something happened or why they did something. Often they really don't know. It seemed like a good idea at the time... This lack of a cause and effect relationship between effort and reward, behavior and punishment, and other inconsistencies casts a pall of doubt over the decision making process. Because his judgment has gotten him in trouble so many times, he probably doesn't trust it himself.
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12. ADDers are usually creative, talented and intelligent.A list of confirmed and suspected ADDers reads like a "Who's Who" of creative geniuses: Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, Beethoven, Alexander Bell and many more.
In the same seminar cited above, Dr. Hallowell makes the following observation about ADD children. It holds true for adults as well.
"They have a feel for things, a way of seeing right to the heart of matters while others have to reason their way along methodically. This is the child who can't explain how he thought of the solution, or where the idea for the story came from, or why suddenly he produced a painting, or how he knew the short cut to an answer, but all he can say is, he just knew it, he could feel it.... Where most of us are blind, they can, if not see the light, at least feel the light, and they can produce answers apparently out of the dark." (Hallowell, quoted in the Newsletter of the Concord Special Education Parent Advisory Council, Concord, MA)
One stereotypical image of the ADDer is the "genius" who "just doesn't have any "common sense". This is neither a true nor fair portrayal. He does have "common sense". He is simply distracted and unable to apply it. I watched one day as a student played an incredible rendition of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. His classmates were literally spellbound. As Bill was playing, and as everyone was standing there entranced, he became so engrossed in his playing that he didn't realized he was drooling until his hands became wet. Of course, his musical genius was quickly forgotten by those watching.
Between 50% and 80% of ADDers are estimated to have some kind of learning disability along with their ADD. ( Dr. Larry Silver, cited in Adult ADD, Whiteman & Novotni, Pinon. 1995. p207) While some would consider ADD with a leaning disability to be redundant, it really is not. ADD IS NOT a learning disorder, although it can make learning more difficult for those who have it. Learning disorders, such as dyslexia, perceptual handicaps or processing problems all interfere with the brains ability to receive and process information. ADD, in contrast, has a greater effect on information which is already in the brain. Reception is not a problem, unless there is a coexisting learning disorder. Because of the often narrow ways we as a culture measure intelligence, such as performance on standardized tests, these students may be perceived as less intelligent than they actually are. Sadly, many of them will perform only up to these perceptions.
One other comment on this: Our schools are not set up to encourage or reward creativity. In fact, such creativity is often discouraged by the school, both by peer pressure and by curriculum. I can remember feeling so odd in elementary school when art work was displayed. The other Easter eggs would all be such pretty pastel colors, like something right off the Peez package itself. Mine had polka dots. Or plaid. Other projects had similar differences. Now, I try to encourage those kinds of things in my own students. I have to work to not make the "normal" kids feel weird.
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13. The ADDer exhibits mood swings.As a result of emotional flooding and other factors, the mood changes in an ADDer are more intense and happen much more quickly. The ADDer blows up, often for no apparent reason to those around him. He can just as quickly become excited and elated about something that pleases him, again, often for no apparent reason to those around him.
14. One of the few consistent things about the ADDer is his inconsistency.Many ADD children suffer because they appear to have a rather selective attention span. They are unable to focus on the lesson about frogs, but will really "tune in" to the lesson on minerals. This infuriates teachers, because it shows "just what that kid can do when he wants to". Adults are really not that much different. We can really let a lot of things slide, then do something truly amazing if we are interested in it. We are told we have a lack of self discipline, we are just being lazy, and all sorts of wonderfully edifying things.
Actually, we could do that well at all things. The teacher was only partially incorrect in her assessment about what "that kid" could do. It's not a matter of wanting to; its a matter of being able to stay focused. When we are presented with a task that we find interesting, we are able to maintain focus longer because we can lock on. On the other hand, chores which are not inherently inspiring do not lock. Our rapid fire neurology goes back into random access mode, scanning for something new to focus on. Non-ADDers don't realize that the ADDer gets frustrated by this inconsistency as well. There are few things more frustrating than wanting to complete a task, or wanting to listen to what someone has to say, and having to fight your way through all this other stuff to do it. It feels as though my mind is about to split, with one part staying to maintain what focus it can, and the other to go scan the horizons.
The child who can't sit still long enough to do his math homework yet can watch TV for hours at a time is misleading. The average image on even a newscast, one of the more staid programs when it comes to editing techniques, is 3 seconds. (Another fun fact to drop into a conversation.) Therefore, although the activity- watching TV- may last for hours, the actual required attention span is about 3-5 seconds.
We won't even discuss the infamous and ever popular "channel surfer"!
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15. ADDers tend to have other chronic health problems as well, especially respiratory disorders.While asthma is not an emotion and probably not even related to ADD in a biological sense, it is noteworthy that there is a higher occurrence of asthma among people who have ADD. (Hallowell & Ratey, "Answers to Distraction", p 214) I have it, a lot of my friends have it, and several books on ADD mention this connection as well. This is important because some of the medications used to treat asthma can cause inattention. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure you are taking the best medication for you. Also, ADDers are more prone to engage in high risk behaviors which may cause injury or other health problems. We forget to take medicines. We stay up too late too often.
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16. The ADDer tends to look for "deeper meanings".He has a hard time accepting things at face value. They tend to look past what is there and ask "What does this mean" or "What is he really saying?"
For an example, let's look at a coin, a quarter. Face value of 25cents. If you were to ask most people what a quarter is worth, they would say 25cents. Most people wouldn't even think of any way to answer besides that. Not us."Mr. ADDer, what's a quarter worth?"
"Well, it's worth 25 cents if you want to buy something, but I don't know what it's really worth. What is a quarter made of? Silver and copper? Is there anything else that they put in that alloy? I don't know what the price per once of silver or copper is these days. Then there's labor cost, but for an individual coin that would be negligible. You know, you can tell a lot about a country's economy by the 'heft' of their coins. Have you noticed how light our coins have become? Remember how they felt before 1965, when they were more silver and less copper? Even ten years ago, they felt heavier than this. These coins feel more like aluminum. I wonder if a coin made from aluminum would still be worth as much. It's really an arbitrary value system, anyway. I mean, the whole thing is really worth only what we as a society decide its worth. I guess we've decided its worth 25cents. Or somebody did. What does that come to, half of a candy bar? A pack of chewing gum?"
The ADDer might switch to another topic, or he might walk away at this point, still contemplating the value of money in terms of wages, hours worked, purchasing power, what the Federal Reserve did today and how it effects interest rates and therefore the value of the quarter, or other related topics. Meanwhile, the person who asked the question is overwhelmed. He thinks the ADDer must be either a genius or an idiot, and at this point, he's not sure the two don't go hand in hand.
Obviously, American coinage isn't the only topic that could be used as an example here. This tendency to look for "deeper meaning" also means that they ADDer, when focused, will be very sensitive to nuances, innuendoes and implication."You look very nice today."
"Thank you." (But he thinks): Did I not look nice yesterday? I have been kind of dressing down lately; I wonder if that was a hint. Or maybe a complaint. Will that show up on my next evaluation? What makes the way I look today any different than the way I look everyday? Better find out....
Sometimes, this ability can have very positive uses. The ADDer can sometimes see implications and possible solutions (or problems) that others can't. He can use this "divergent thinking" to his advantage, and to the advantage of those who have the patience to allow him to work an idea out to its farthest point. It can be exasperating, but he will often arrive at a truly brilliant conclusion.
ADDers are naturally attracted to symbolism. In fact, we can find symbolism in even the most mundane of things. Everything is a metaphor of something else. There is depth even in simplicity. Etc., etc., etc.
There is a lot of reasoning by extrapolation. An ADDer can see opportunities everywhere. He can see a multi-million dollar empire even before he even has a product to sell.
Our view of the world IS different, for better and for worse. Once, I was in full swing "implication" mode, really excited, and just going for it. When I finished, the non- ADD friend I was having lunch with said "Bob, I just had the scariest feeling. For a moment there I actually understood what you were talking about!"
A corollary to this is that the ADDer, more than most, knows that there is always more to an issue than meets the eye. He feels that one may never really know a definitive answer because you could still consider it further and break it down even more. Decisions can have several, if not unlimited, options to choose from; the ADDer may live in a state of perpetually unresolved choices.
Of course, because he is so inconsistent, the ADDer may well turn right around and make a snap decision based on impulse and then never change his mind because he "knows it was right".
It has been suggested that at least one prominent politician who occasionally "waffles" might have ADD.
The ADDer thinks that all people should be able to realize these implications, and gets frustrated that they can't- or don't. Sometimes he will say something in total seriousness and be greeted by laughter- or "The Look". Most of the time, he will react as though he intended to make a joke, but inside he feels rejected and hurt. At other times, he will think something is outrageously funny, because of the implications of the event more than the event itself, and no one else will get it.
The average ADDer has gone through many more jobs, hobbies, and short lived projects in which he fully immerses himself than the average person. Unless he has a reading disorder, such as dyslexia, he probably is better read than most of his peers. He may well have eclectic tastes when compared to those around him. He will probably have a broad base of information about a lot of things. He has an incredible willingness, even a desire, to try almost anything once, which means that his list of experiences will continue to grow even after an age when most people's interests are becoming solidified. In conversation, he will somehow tie all of these vast experiences together by using analogies, metaphors and comparisons which no one else can really relate to.
I am not trying to inflate the ego of my ADD readers. I am simply saying that our world is potentially very different from the worlds of our non-ADD brothers.
People who don't understand this, or who have no idea what the ADDer is talking about, will have a hard time following his line of thinking. People who aren't very patient just wish he would get to the point. The ADDer doesn't want to get to the point. He's enjoying the journey.
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17. The ADDer appreciates routine and predictable outcomes.Because his own nuerology has made his life somewhat unpredictable, unstructured and very unstable, the ADDer prefers situations and procedures which are routine and structured. At first glance, this may appear to contradict the notion that ADDers prefer spontaneity and originality. However, a deeper understanding of creativity in general and the creative ADDer specifically recognizes that structure and spontaneity go hand in hand.
Perhaps the best illustration of this link is the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Any knowledge of Mozart's life would surely lead to the conclusion that he was not only a genius, but a genius with ADD as well. The sheer volume of work completed during a life of only 33 years is overwhelming to any music scholar. Yet Mozart wrote at a time when music was composed under the strictest set of rules imaginable. The Classical music of Mozart's day (which was literally of the Classical period, 1750-1803, and not just classical in the generic sense of the word) was written using strict formulas regarding style, form and structure. Never before, and only occasionally since, had any music been so formula driven. Within this framework and using these strict rules, Mozart was able to write incredibly creative masterpieces.
Not all ADDers are young (or old) Mozarts, but all ADDers do share this affinity for structure in their environment. This is particularly important for those who are raising or teaching an ADD child. Such structure lessens the number of distractions in the room, thereby making it easier for the student to focus on the subject at hand. Often, the lack of structure itself becomes a distraction, as the ADDer gets lost in thoughts of what might happen next.
In adults with ADD, this predictability becomes a two edged sword. On the one hand, the ADDer seeks the comfort of a predictable life. On the other, he often despises the "rut" that his life becomes. In the mind of an ADDer, a path soon becomes a rut, which eventually deepens to become a grave. Yet he craves the comfort of the familiar path.
The ADDer who, like Mozart, is able to find creativity within the support of an existing structure will be the most satisfied.
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