Adults with ADD: What do you want from the rest of us?

Someone close to me (an adult, and no I am not talking about myself) recently discovered that they have Attention Deficit Disorder.

This has been a big deal for them. It seemed to clarify a lot of things about their life up to this point that they never understood before. Mostly with respect to not being able to finish big projects (like degrees), problems at former places of employment and some relationships, etc.

This person is still coming to grips with this revelation and what it will mean for their future. As a non-ADDer I have trouble understanding what this is really all about, and what if anything I should do differently in my relationship with this person.

Adults with ADD, what do you want from the rest of us? Is there one thing you would like to tell us about your ADD, or wish we could know about you?

Give us stimulation! Lots and lots of stimulation! And try to keep up, would you? Thanks!

Give us multiple, complementary tasks. We don’t do well stuck in one place doing one thing for 8 hours. We don’t do much better being constantly jerked around to do whatever just crossed your mind.

If you expect us to be organized, be organized yourself. When you give assignments, be clear and comprehensive. Tolerate questions - even those that make you think we weren’t listening.

In the case of very large, crucial projects, write down as much as possible, give us a copy or email of it, and talk over it with us.

Resist the urge to hold endless ritual meetings. If you do, don’t expect us to get anything important you might say.

Be understanding with deadlines. Don’t get all tied in a knot if we miss something minor. At the same time, let us know what is really needed, when, and why.

Don’t micromanage us. We will let you down.

That sounds like generally good advice for anyone. Why would ADD make any of those requests special?

Isn’t that just ordinary respect and a good code for co-workers? I manage a large team (first time manager, new to company), and this is just about my work practice word for word.

Of course, when you have gone to the effort and detail to be able to brief someone as well as you can for a project, it is then their responsibility to raise any red flags when and if it becomes apparent. Regardless of ADD or no.

I don’t believe management should have to accommodate the employee. It is the employee that must full fill the requirements of his/her job, handicap or not.

It may be useful, nonetheless, for management to make some accommodations, such as help the employee work well for them. The end result could be good for both parties.

Agreed, and the OP wasn’t specifically a question of employer/employee relationships, I was simply adding when push comes to shove it is the employee that must adapt. And I’ve often found employers to be pushy. To understand what is truly in their best interests is rarely in the Management Manifesto…or so I’ve witnessed.

I believe ADD to be one of those BS psychological conditions labels that people use to abrogate personal responsibility for their behaviour.

No, no its not my fault I have this condition you see .

I wonder how many people would claim to to have this condition if it were known as “lazy,spoiled brat disorder”

I personally have a very,very low boredom threshold that makes some tasks hell on earth for me but I overcome it with self discipline no matter how much I hate doing the job and no matter what other much more pleasant things that Icould be doing at that time instead .

:dubious: And your vast years of medical training and research have led you to this conclusion, right?

Because as someone who has a severe case of ADD, I can tell you that the problem is not simply one of boredom. There are a whole host of issues which go along with ADD. For example, when I’m not on my medication, and I figure out a solution to a problem I am immediately filled with an overwhelming surge of energy, so much so that I have to run around to burn it off. I can’t simply throw myself into the task I’ve been thinking about, no matter how much I want to, or how hard I try. I physically begin shaking if I try.

Even trying to converse with someone is a difficult task for me, as my mind leaps ahead with great rapidity, without my realizing it, making it almost impossible for me to get my point across. Nor do I try to “shrug off” the mistakes I’ve made in life by saying, “It’s not my fault, it’s because I’ve got ADD.” I only wish that I had known that I had ADD when I was younger, because then I might have been able to avoid some of the mistakes that I’ve made. Saying “It’s not my fault, it’s my ADD.” doesn’t solve the problems that I’ve made, so there’s no point in wasting my time using that as an excuse.

But go ahead and continue to believe what you want. Obviously you know more about the condition than either someone who is diagnosed with it, or the doctors who identify it.

Thanks for all the insights, folks. I was thinking more about interpersonal relationship stuff but the workplace info is good too (although I have to agree that a lot of Beware of Doug’s list I would hope would be normal work practice for people).

Do you find the medication has helped you, overall? How? Are there drawbacks to taking it?

It’s helped a great deal. (I’m on Strattera, BTW.) I don’t have the sudden surge of energy when I come up with a solution to a problem, I don’t talk to myself almost incessantly, it’s easier for me to communicate with other people, and I don’t forget things quite so easily. The only side effects I’ve experienced is an increased level of thirst. I have noticed that when I’ve stopped taking it for extended periods of time (lordy is it ever expensive) that my ADD symptoms are worse and I don’t always notice negative behaviors when I commit them.

Not according to the Americans with Disabilities Act

Don’t expect us to organize in the way you do. We probably will not be orderly, but we do have a system. Just because you can’t understand it, doesn’t mean it isn’t effective for us.

The book You Mean I’m not Lazy Stupid or Crazy? gives great insite into what we deal with every day.

I’ve read most of Driven to Distraction but I still have trouble understanding the whole thing. Everyone has times when they are disorganized or distracted, I guess I have no real insight into how ADD is qualitatively different.
What about relationship problems? Dealing with family members, loved ones?

I’ve lived with ADD my whole life. I’ve studied it in my academic career as a psych instructor at a small liberal arts college, I’ve been to workshops and seminars, I’ve participated in contemplative studies. And a lot of what the opponants say is unfortunately quite true. We [those of is with this disorder] get the short end of the stick quite often. And it seems excuse based, but I can insure you it is not.

The books mentioned are wonderful, and those living with someone who has ADD can attest they are quite accurate. As a member of a community of [highly intelligent] people who have ADD I can attest we are not disobedient slackers looking for an emotional handout.

I’ve been medication free for almost 3 years, I have my good days and my bad. Somedays I think I should get back on Dexidrine, others I am happy to not be on it. I have a terrible time sleeping as it is, add an amphetamine and I get no sleep. Lately my ADD as transferred into some acute anxiety, and I will probably seek out a non-stimulant based medication if this continues.

The people who suffer the most in my opinion are my wife and family. They [especially my wife] see me as forgetful and sometimes downright arrogant when it comes to performing the most mundane of tasks e.g. cleaning up, vaccuming, mailing bills.

Me recommendation to the OP is give the person they benefit of the doubt and work with them. Care for them like any other friend. ADD is as dibilitating as one makes it…I have chosen diet and exercise over medication, and sometimes it works, other times I pay dearly for it. NEVER do I seek sympathy, and never do I use it as a crutch. And ever since giving up the drink [which I was known to self medicate with] I have been in a better state of mind. I love my ADD bretheren anyone who has different to say can piss off. :slight_smile:

That is such BS. I teach science at a community college, so we see our share of folks with various learning disabilities and ADD.

I had an extremely bright and wonderful student many semesters in a row, in various subjects. One semester he was not handing anything in, totally unfocused, absolutely not himself. Strange enough of a change that I sat with him to see what had happened.

Apparently he went off his meds because he hated the idea that he needed meds to function (a stigma perpetuated by ideas like the one quoted above). I suggested that his meds allowed his true self to shine and I encouraged him to go back to doctor and discuss it, and see what the doc reccomended.

The doc helped get back on his meds and within weeks he was a new person (or back to his true self) again. I allowed him sometime to make up lab reports as his was a documented medical condition and he kept me in the loop as his treatment progressed.

He graduated this year in the Honor Society (3.8 GPA in a hardcore biology degree prgram) and will be pursuing his 4-year degree in the fall. He was an outstanding, hardworking and organized student on his meds and the opposite (and depressed) off.

I’ve also seen students lose focus and be unable to work when hypglycemic- no one would doubt that was real…

What about if you are forced to use an already existing organization system. At work, say. Is that helpful or difficult?
Tuckerfan if I recall correctly your job involves some sort of metalworking? Do you think the ADD is one of the reasons you do well in this kind of work (using your hands) or is it just a coincidence?
Phlosphr I know you are a creative tool-using guy as well, do you think the ADD is a factor?

As both a doctor and a patient, I’m not sure that it is. It’s sort of like diabetes; someone with fasting blood sugar of 125 is not technically a diabetic, and someone with FBS of 126 is, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything qualitatively different about them. In practice, the difference is rarely that subtle.

ADHD is diagnosed based on a set of behaviors, and one of the criteria is that the behavior prohibits normal functioning in at least two settings. This requires a subjective opinion on “normal” vs. “abnormal”. Some people may have all the symptoms, but they’re not severe enough to interfere with functioning. Others may have compensated so well that they do just great despite all the symptoms. They might not have ADHD, technically, but I doubt there’s a neurochemical difference between them and others who are diagnosed.

(Most mental disorders are this way. It would be nice if you could draw a big black line between normal and abnormal, but you can’t always.)

The best thing you can do is to understand that the deficit is not in attention, but in attention control. I pay more attention to things around me than just about anybody I know, but I can’t focus that attention at will. Some days I can sit and work on charts for hours, and some days it’s a struggle to write a single note.

I have to say, though, that I wouldn’t really expect anything from my friends in terms of my ADHD. I don’t even like to talk to them about it, and I was on meds for years before even my best friends knew about it (not that they were surprised). I think just trying to learn more about it is going above and beyond.

Yes, as a child my head was always in the clouds…imagining, contemplating everything. It has made me an imaginative adult. Some people admire this other deplore it. I am who I am and most of the time I like me… ADD has been a blessing in disguise. But also a disturbance at times…

I was diagnosed with ADD when I was 12. I was on medication for it until I was 18 and I am now 24 and function very well without meds"
I don’t have ADHD, just ADD. I know the hyperactivity can add more challeges that don’t apply to me.

My number one piece of advice is to be patient. I don’t ask you to repeat yourself because I don’t care to listen to you, I just can’t help when my brain takes off on a tangent in response to something you’ve said.

Also, please don’t just walk up to me when my focus is on a book and expect me to realize you are trying to talk to me. It can take several seconds for me to break my focus and listen to you. i prefer if you say something that announces your presence and your intention to converse and wait for me to acknowledge you. I miss the first part of what you are saying otherwise.