You know what? It’s all well and good to say that ADHD is never going to stop affecting the lives of those who have it. Yes, it’s tough. No, there’s no cure. And I can live with that.
But it’s irritating to be told that we only need to pay attention, apply ourselves. The people telling us this don’t understand that there is a reason why this doesn’t work.
There is, in fact, an area of our ADHD brain that doesn’t function quite right. This area of the brain lets our minds roam free, unfettered by the constraints of focus. We see things that others miss, we get things others don’t understand, because our minds are going flat out and working without a map.
They, on the other hand, see things that we miss, because they are paying attention. And they get things we don’t understand because they can focus on the mind numbing details of how really boring things work. We can’t do that, well, not so well.
And the real issue is that they don’t understand this
For people without ADHD, people who can explore the vagaries and subtleties of the 27 stages of drying paint, they aren’t always that up on everything. Many of them just don’t get what it’s like to have ADHD.
They don’t understand that telling us to pay attention is like us telling them to fly. They can jump up into the air, but they’re going to come back down. What if we told them “Just don’t fall back down. Just stay up there. Just apply yourself, concentrate, pay attention, do it.
Seriously, what’s the problem?
Perhaps if they realized that not everyone has the facility to be good at everything. Some people can do math in their head. I’m passably adept at it, but I’ve known some pretty brilliant people who could make my mind just not bother trying. Imagine explaining how to do that to someone, as if it were a skill one could learn.
Being confident is another thing. Imagine explaining confidence to the timid adolescent who would just love to ask the object of their affection out for a date. They may ask for the date … eventually, but they’ll not likely exude confidence in the act. I know, I did my share of exuding as a teenager, and it wasn’t confidence that I exuded, not confidence at all.
What’s this all about?
So I suggested I had some help for members of the non-ADHD world when I titled this post. And I do.
It’s this: don’t assume that you can fix us by suggesting we should pay attention. That’s like telling a person with a visual impairment to just look. It won’t work, it isn’t helpful, and it doesn’t make you look very smart.
In fact, the only way someone could look less intelligent would be if they denied the existence of ADHD while exuding confidence. Yeah, that would make it worse.