Tag Archives: ADD

“I Gotta Have My Tunes!”

31 May

Attending a fancy birthday party recently, I was amused that everyone was inside… away from the DJ blasting in the backyard. If you wanted the music, then why are you avoiding it?

For me, someone with ADHD, I’ve come to accept the world is too loud for me, but most people don’t notice. At my favorite bar, I remember one of the regulars noticed the jukebox had stopped, and she called out, “I gotta have my tunes!” She proceeded to throw money in the machine, but then continued her conversation. I was thinking–how did she not notice that it was harder to talk with the music on?!

My main theory is that “it’s not a party without music;” that they’ve been conditioned to equaling having fun with playing music. However, it could be something simpler; it could just be “I need something in the background.” Then maybe most people’s volume levels are set higher than mine.

The common excuse did restaurants having their music too loud is “nothing attracts the crowd like the crowd.” People are loud, so if the music’s loud, more people will come. But people might be less inclined to come back.

I could be completely off base here… What do you think? Is there another reason people need their tunes? Let me know in the comments below!

Meaningless Debating Societies

31 Jan

My daughter wanted to stay home from school on Friday. Eventually we finally got down to the reason–that was when her school’s “community meeting” happened. When ADD kids are forced into a meeting, boredom is crushing.

What’s even more sad is that Elizabeth is the class vice-president–which means (in theory) she should have a role in this student council, but she doesn’t. Since she has ADD like her daddy, but hasn’t had years of experience with crushingly boring meetings, it is sheer torture for her. So my wife asked me to write a letter to the school explaining what could be done to make those meetings less painful for ADD kids (of which, her Montessori school has LOTS). So here’s my advice:

First – Have a clear and simple agenda

Most meetings can be handled with a simple email. However, since elementary schools don’t have email, you could just make an announcement and get on with life. So if you need a meeting, make it a simple one with clear goals that you want to achieve. Meetings where people are just there to “check-in” or “get to know each other” are generally worthless. You don’t get “camaraderie” in a conference room.

What’s sad is that most meetings I’ve been to in the corporate world is to force one person to make a decision (usually the bosses’ boss); everyone else is window dressing.

Second – Give everyone something to do

In my current meetings, my job is to report on one thing, and then I stay silent for the other 90%. So when I still had to meet in person, I learned how to look busy and entertain myself. I learned how to write in Quikscript so that it looked like I was diligently taking notes, but in reality, I was writing snarky comments to amuse myself.

As for what we do during online meetings, well… this best captures that:

What I suggested to my daughter’s teacher was to give everyone something to do. I suggested having a timekeeper (to limit the amount of time kids had to take) and giving my daughter the responsibility to set the agenda. When you’re invested in the meeting, then it’s easier to pay attention, and feel like you got something out of it.

I find it interesting that even just looking at the first picture I found for this post, I noticed three people holding phones and three people with cameras. I can’t believe that what Miss Congeniality had to say was that important, but hey, it was a staged shot! My point is that they had something to do.

Third – Keep it efficient

If you can be efficient, quickly addressing the issues, and tabling any comments that are extraneous to the agenda (because some people just want to hear themselves talk), then you can be out of the meeting quickly, and people feel like they accomplished something.

If you can do those three things, then meetings can actually… well, mean something. Otherwise, so many meetings devolve into meaningless debating societies. But what do you think? Is there a fourth rule I’m missing? Let me know in the comments below!

Attention Deficit, Vigilance Surplus

18 Jul

Imagine you’re a caveman – you’re walking through a forest trying to hunt or gather food. A forest is only peaceful if you leave a noisy world: there are lots of sounds, images, colors that can be detected. Being able to notice all those stimuli can make the difference to survive. Today, when survival is more assured, and the number of stimuli is multiplied exponentially, those same skills make success more difficult. This is what it means to be ADD.

The term is “attention deficit disorder,” but the reality is quite different. It’s not that you don’t pay attention–it’s that you pay attention to EVERYTHING. What I’ve learned over the last couple of years is that for most people, people are able to mentally filter out all the distractions of the modern world. People don’t notice the music playing in the cafe, the lawn mower down the street, the birds chirping in your neighbor’s tree. That’s background noise to you. To me, the music in a restaurant is ALWAYS too loud, landscaping day at my complex (Wednesday) is a horror, and groups of more than five people are to be avoided. In order to keep yourself sane, you have to block out everything, because you can’t help noticing everything.

When I was growing up, ADD wasn’t a thing. You were “hyper,” “distracted,” or often, “just a boy.” My school counselor told me, “You’re like a car with both feet on the gas and the brake pedals. When you learn to let off the brake, you’ll do amazing!” This was in junior high! I didn’t know why I couldn’t focus on things, why I got bored so easily… it was just my life.

It was only when my children were diagnosed that I finally started understanding why I do what I do and what I can do about it. Apparently, there is more than one type of ADD, and the regular prescriptions (taking speed to push you over the edge and calm down) don’t work on me. I’ve learned to take a cocktail of supplements which are much cheaper; 5-HTP, Omega-3, and GABA are the most effective… along with a couple minor ones.

However, there are a lot of advantages. I can focus really hard on a project to the exclusion of all else (once I get going on it). I can notice little details that most people miss. I can work really hard on something and then drop it if priorities require me to be somewhere else. I can listen better because I notice all the signals that people are sending. But most of my life does not require my superpowers.

Most of the time, I cope. I learned to carry headphones to block out noise in restaurants; I don’t have to plug them in, just muffle the sound to my ears a little bit. When I want to write, I pump up the trance/EDM music because it overwhelms all other stimulus and allows me to focus on typing. (I never listen it otherwise.) I seek out a lot more alone time than most people because dealing with other people is exhausting.

Does that sound familiar? Or do you live with someone with ADD? Tell me your experience in the comments below!

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