Working On Us Prompt: ADHD

It is Wednesday and that means Beckie has launched another topic in the Working On Us Series. I badly wanted to participate last week, when the topic was (complex) PTSD. However, I felt too low on energy then. This week, the topic is ADHD.

I was never diagnosed with ADHD, so in this sense I have little to add here. I, however, do experience many symptoms that could be signs of particularly inattentive-type ADHD. They overlap a lot with autistic symptoms though, which I do have a diagnosis of. At this point, I don’t think it’s necessary for me to get an official ADHD assessment. Most groups for adult ADHD/ADD welcome self-diagnosed individuals and those who are questioning, like me.

Symptoms I relate to include restlessness, both physically and mentally. I’m not necessarily hyperactive in that I blurt out random things, but I do fidget like all the time and my mind is usually racing. That is, it is either racing or completely shut off, like when I’m low on energy.

The same really goes for impulsiveness: I’m not impulsive in the typical way, but I am in less typical ways. For example, every need feels urgent to me. This applies to basic human needs like eating – when I feel hungry, it feels as though I’m literally starving -, but also to other wants and needs. This could be related to autistic sensory processing issues, but I believe it’s more than this, especially since it doesn’t just apply to sensory or bodily needs.

As for inattentiveness, I can’t usually pay attention to something unless it really interests me, in which case I hyperfocus and become totally absorbed to the exclusion of other activities. I know this is an ADHD trait, but it is also common in autistics and I’ve always wondered whether everyone doesn’t have this issue to an extent.

Lastly, my executive functions seem to suck. My memory for random words or digits is about average and used to be above-average, but for everyday life experiences (particularly others’ experiences) and daily tasks, it’s pretty bad. I was told when I did a behavioral memory test (where you have to retell a short newspaper story) as part of my autism assessment, that my memory is detail-oriented.

With respect to planning and organizing tasks, I suck at those and always have. I used to do pretty well when faced with a deadline, but even then I struggled to organize tasks. I recently read that ADHD children often learn to do tasks on high adrenaline. The reason is often that neurotypical adults assume that, if a child is capable of something relatively difficult once, they must be able to do it all the time and must be able to do all assumed-to-be-easier tasks in that category. For this reason, neurotypical adults often force ADHD children into doing tasks they cannot yet do, assuming they can, and as such cause the child high anxiety. This causes an adrenaline rush, which temporarily increases the child’s ability to perform.

When I read this conversation on Facebook (it was originally posted to Tumblr but I don’t know where), so many bells rang in my head. Like many people referred to in this conversation, I can sometimes do seemingly more complex tasks while not being able to do simpler tasks in that same category. I am also very inconsistent in my abilities, usually being able to perform a task under pressure better, but with less pleasure. For clarity’s sake, this conversation was meant to explain the harmful effects of forcing children to do tasks they feel they are not capable of.

Since I do not have an ADHD diagnosis, I’ve not had any treatment specific to it. I’m also not on ADHD medication. I, however, find that some coping strategies that work for ADHD individuals, do work for me.

5 thoughts on “Working On Us Prompt: ADHD

  1. Hello, Astrid. I so appreciate that you are joining us this week with regards to ADHD on Week #19 of “Working on Us.”
    I’ll be honest when I say… I know so little about autism, yet that will be a topic in a future post.
    You seem to know yourself pretty darn well to be able to express how some symptoms of Autism and ADHD are quite similar, which is quite helpful to our readers. When I was younger, (in grammar school), I honestly thought there was something I was struggling with… My attention span was that of a gnat. Racing thoughts and poor concentration. I also couldn’t sit still to save myself, always go, go, go.
    It wasn’t until I graduated and got into the workplace, my concentration improved, as well as my anal organizational skills.
    Like you, I was never diagnosed with ADHD. I can only assume that when I was a child, there was the onset of it perhaps… I don’t know.
    Again, I greatly appreciate sharing your experience as well as your thoughts about the possibility of having ADHD. Question for you, do you think you will ever question a professional if you do or do not have ADHD?
    Thank you again, Astrid. 💚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Astrid,

    like Brian glad the coping strategies are working for you.

    I had imagined that a lot of executive function material would be common.

    I had probably seen that Tumblr report/theory.

    Will say more soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Can I just say it’s so great that you’re really looking into yourself and your needs with all of this? More to say but feels inappropriate as you’re exploring this, which is what’s important right now a LOT. I’m so glad you are.

    Liked by 2 people

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