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ADHD, Are You Listening?

Listen up ...
Listen up …

I heard something funny the other night at a party. I know it was funny, everyone laughed. Everyone including me, I laughed. I laughed and laughed.

You should have heard it, you’d probably have laughed also. You might have laughed like the others in the room, they all thought it was funny. Or you may have laughed like I did. I said I thought it was funny also. But I actually didn’t know.

I had heard it, whatever it was, but I didn’t absorb it. I had missed a key phrase at the beginning. I think that the grammatical structure at the beginning was ambiguous, and as I tried to figure out which way round that was supposed to be, I missed much more.

In the end I was doing what some people I know with hearing loss often do when they can’t hear. I nodded and smiled knowingly, and laughed when everyone else did.

I’d like to share that humorous anecdote with you, but obviously I can’t. Because it made no sense to me, I didn’t retain it.

So, ambiguous grammar?

Yes, but not just ambiguous grammar. In a party setting there is almost always chatter and laughter. In fact, that’s almost the definition of some parties, chatter and laughter. But people with ADHD have a hard time sorting out a single speaker from such a chorus of voices.

Additionally, people move around at parties. They scrape chairs and open fridge doors and prepare and serve drinks and snacks. All these sounds can act like white noise for the person with ADHD, and white noise can mask the details of sound.

Additionally, there is a suggestion that people with ADHD may engage in a primitive form of lip reading, matching lip movement with sound, that helps us determine which words are the ones we wish to be paying attention to. So distractions, those that make us look away, can take our minds and eyes away from the conversation.

So what can I do?

If you see me at a party, you might not know that I have trouble listening to others. But that may be because you never actually see my defective listening in action. You see, I have a a defense mechanism.

What might that be?

It’s simple, I don’t listen. I speak.

It’s true that I often speak too much, but as long as I’m talking, as long as I’m dominating the conversation, I don’t need to listen nearly as much.

So if we meet at a party, and you find that I’m talking your ear off, it’s just so that I don’t have to try to listen.

And if we do meet at a party and I am talking your ear off … just tell me to shut up.

ADHD, Are You Listening?

Kelly Babcock

I was born in the city of Toronto in 1959, but moved when I was in my fourth year of life. I was raised and educated in a rural setting, growing up in a manner I like to refer to as free range. I live in an area where my family history stretches back 6 or more generations. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 50 and have been both struggling with the new reality and using my discoveries to make my life better. I write two blogs here at Psych Central, one about having ADHD and one that is a daily positive affirmation that acts as an example of finding the good in as much of my life as I possibly can.

Find out more about me on my website: writeofway.

email me at ADHD Man

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APA Reference
Babcock, K. (2015). ADHD, Are You Listening?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 2, 2020, from


Last updated: 20 Oct 2015
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