Hi, my name is Alex, and I have ADHD.
Likewise, one out of 5 adults has ADHD. My story will perhaps have many similarities to your own experiences, and I fully intend to provoke the frontal lobe, which should not scare you, quite the opposite. Therefore understanding and managing adult ADHD is like going for a walk on a dreary day along a damp path in the woods. As you reach the end, the mist lifts and a serendipitous field of pristine daffodils hits you. I ADHD (digress), and if you have any chance of following this blog, you’re going to have to bounce around a little with me. The frontal lobe is the crucial area that helps organize, plan, pay attention, and make decisions. Consequently, it is where we problem solve. Thank goodness for cut and paste.
How my mind operates once I finally start this blog.
I literally take days, maybe weeks to finally start this blog, I have been building the website for a year. I kept saying, ‘I’m launching soon,’ but before I did that, I had to write a blog. Starting a task sometimes takes a while. As a result, procrastination sets in; I need a deadline. Here is a breakdown of the next few hours.
- Start Blog, just write, talk about ADHD – give some facts.
- Studied notes for 2 hours, came across old Todo list, seemed crucial at the time, some are two years old.
- Somehow ended up reading an MRI study that predicted the diagnosis of ADHD correctly in 83% of all cases!!! – Fascinating!
- I had several MRI’s over the years on my neck, if only they had taken a peek at my head. Would they have seen anything?
- Do I think ADHD was caused by an earlier car accident (trauma)?
- I once read that Adderall was used to treat PTSD, how does it affect people in the Army with ADHD who then get PTSD?
- Do a quick research on ADHD & Military stats.
- Surprised to learn taking ADHD medication within two years, or being prescribed an IEP, 504 plan after age 14 is a disqualifying condition joining the Military.
- U.S. Air Force website currently says ‘must be off medication and rule out any residual ADD/ADHD.’
- Add section ‘There is no cure for ADHD.’
- Sad to learn this info, the Military is likely full of people with ADHD (thrive in structure) and ability to ‘Hyperfocus’ (see below)
- Add section on ‘Hyperfocus.’
- Research using AWS SageMaker machine learning for career predictions with ADHD.
- Really start Blog this time!
Getting organized with productivity tools and Todo lists
Whether you have ADHD or not, we all make lists, just some more than others. I have a shocking history with post-it note consumption, which notoriously decorated the outside of my computer screen to now the electronic version center stage on inside of the screen. My ADHD diagnosis highlighted executive functioning organizing and planning impairment. First of all, this gave me conscious delight in using electronic tools to provide my executive functioning weakness comprising organizing, planning, starting, and completing tasks – especially things that do not excite me.
Furthermore, the downside to a plethora of options is. Naturally, it took me quite a while to make a decision on which tool to use, and somewhat characteristically ended up using a combination. I have taken comfort in hearing a podcast by Jason Calacanis, who mentioned ‘Notion,’ which promises to offer a single source for your productivity applications. I like the idea of it, however, so far I have just managed to add another electronic layer and retire nothing. My advice is, pick one or two apps and stick with them; above all, I love Todist and Evernote, using the former for personal and business lists with orders of importance, the latter for an extension to create a database of those lists.
ADHD vs. ADD – What is the difference?
Only people with ADHD (or is it ADD) could go back and forth, changing the name over the decades!! ADHD is now the official name. In the 1980’s it was so simple, ADD with, or without hyperactivity. Several iterations and procrastinations later in 2013 it was announced with a forceful declaration that indeed the correct terms should be:
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, predominantly inattentive presentation
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, combined presentation
As a result, I assume this may have inadvertently allowed parents, teachers, or adults to miss the signs of an underlying issue. It is much easier to spot the signs of a child who is distracted, inattentive, interrupts conversations, regardless of how many times you start with. ‘Now Alex; please don’t interrupt’ and literally before you reach mid-sentence Alex has blurted out that ‘did I know that Richard Nixon could play five instruments (piano, saxophone, clarinet, accordion, and violin). This doesn’t mean you can label simply, but it is real-life jeopardy. Rather than get frustrated and counter with’ I TOLD YOU NOT TO INTERRUPT, WHEN WILL YOU LEARN?’ – one should just respond to themselves ‘what is ADHD.’
ADD (ADHD inattentive)
The way I describe it is, ADD (now referred to as ADHD inattentive) is like a shark; no sound-producing organs, silent yet can be damaging if undetected. ADHD is more elephant, lion or hippo group, just more obvious, we let you know we are coming, we make the ground shake and can be exceptionally noisy in group settings. Regardless of metaphors, both of these labels, if undiagnosed, can cause significant stress in life. While both conditions can be challenging to identify, ADD (ADHD inattentive) can be particularly challenging to diagnose due to similar conditions with overlapping symptoms. There is so much unrecognized hidden talent out there.
- Easily distracted
- Doesn’t appear to listen
- Difficulty with organization
- Avoids starting a task
- Changing jobs frequently
- Interrupts others
- Find tasks/chores boring and repetitive
- Forget or avoid to book flights and bills
- Just on-time or late for an appointment
- Impulsive, take unnecessary risks
- Fidget, hard to sit and relax
- Continuously delay important paperwork
- Rely on cut and paste to write a blog
- Mind drifts during conversations
- Lose and misplace important items
- Frequently late for meetings
- Avoid taking risks
- Encounter fatigue, unmotivated
- Become bored quickly
What is Hyperfocus?
The extraordinary ‘gift’ you can experience with ADHD is the ability to Hyperfocus. As this contradicts general understanding, it often prevents recognition and potential professional diagnosis. Hyperfocus is deep and intense concentration but only in topics, tasks, or activities that are exciting and enjoyable. So the next time you see your child utterly transfixed in a video game and doesn’t respond to you repeatedly trying to get their attention but finds it hard to do homework… Don’t assume they are lazy.
Diagnoses amongst children continue to grow yearly, a higher percentage among girls and mothers. Overall, 11 percent of U.S. children have ADHD, and adult diagnoses are also increasing. Adult diagnosis is where the focus for Amforus lies. As a society, we are much better at diagnosing ADHD in children. However, adults were often not identified, DR. Len Adler, who is a leading researcher in adult ADHD, believes 75 percent of adults who have ADHD do not realize. This causes job insecurity, low self-esteem, drive, confidence, mood swings, and a general state of underachievement. That’s roughly 5 million adults who have not been diagnosed!
People with inattentive ADHD can make careless mistakes, lose interest quickly, and struggle to follow instructions. People think they are lazy, uninterested, or forgetful, and can harbor these hurtful, wrong labels throughout their adult life.
Adult diagnosis often happens similarly to my experience, during my son’s pre-testing, we were sitting with the neuropsychologists doing the family background data gathering for her analysis when the question was posed. ‘Do any of your families have signs of ADHD’? – My wife answered no. My turn, ‘No’ confidently, with a slight chortle. Followed by the most tranquil silence and look of utter bewilderment from my wife, locked onto my eyes with disbelief.
The penny drops…
I turn to the Neurologist with a whimper laugh statement… ‘ha teachers…. Know everything right’..!!
After the trifecta of simultaneous seat adjusting, I had a couple of minutes of reflection while I had an influx of data processing this new information. It didn’t matter to me that much; rather, it did help me understand my son. I learned how difficult it is for your partner and family to live with someone who has ADHD. It can be disruptive; it is annoying and can be hidden from us. I urge you to seek help. For me, above all is my wife’s support for the missing executive functions.
Treatment. The feeling before and after diagnosis
Adult treatment can be a combination of things such as therapy and medication. I won’t get into medication opinions on this blog. However, I am happy to answer any questions directly. It can take months of work from a professional to find the correct combination. Here are some well-known results of people who have got help.
- Become organized
- Pay those bills
- Focused at work
- Complete books, papers, exams
- Better parent
- Do not misplace things
- Better relationships with people
- Complete education
- Highly creative
Benefits of ADHD and neurodiversity in the workplace
Where to start!
Personally, it was 20 years in an extremely high-pressure trading floor environment (where many of us ADHD type live). Insomnia woke me up at 345am every day (still does). As it was so quiet, I hyperfocused on news and charts, finally once the markets opened, I had more information than most people. As a result, I ran one of the busiest index desks on Wall Street, handling large risk orders, multiple conversations at once via phone, and instant messaging.
People with ADHD are often creative, entrepreneurial, multi-tasking, thrive in a crisis, intuitive, offer different perspectives, motivators, persistent, musical, funny, resilient, conversationalists, compassionate, generous, to name a few!
There are many stories of adults who grew up feeling defective, unhappy, never suspecting they had ADHD. Certainly, once you understand how powerful diagnosis and treatment is, trust me, you can do anything. Amforus is a platform that connects people with dyslexia, ADHD/ADD, or autism to inclusive companies. If you are a candidate who has been diagnosed, undiagnosed, a company looking to learn even more, or rather just a curious adult who needs some guidance and potential information about where to get adult ADHD testing and diagnosis, just shoot us an email. We will get right back to you. We are not medical professionals, and any recommendations are personal opinions only.