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Dual Speed ADHD

Not quite, but close …

Some things have infinite speed settings, you set it to whatever you want, some have a variety of set speeds, you feel the control click into place with each speed setting you turn to.

Most people think ADHD has one speed, flat out.

But of course, that’s not true.

Now you’re thinking that there’s flat out and stopped dead, like when we pass out from exhaustion. But no, that’s not a speed, that’s just turned off.

So what’s the other speed?

Well, like everything else about ADHD, it’s complicated.

The dual speed setting is our normal setting. We’re going at two speeds at all times. And all you have to do is watch us to realize the truth of this.

Still don’t get it?

For some of you, the light bulb has already come on. But if you haven’t guessed what I’m saying, don’t feel bad … it took me 58 years to figure this out.

You see, as you watch me moving around trying to get anything done, you’ll first notice that I move quickly, I bounce from thing to thing, We’ll call that “Speed of action.”

But if you watch …

And if you watch closely, you’ll see that what ever it is I’m trying to get done is being done very slowly, because I’m fidgeting with other things at the same time, bouncing from this to that, and some of those things have nothing to do with the task at hand.

So the thing I’m supposed to be getting done is not getting done at the speed of action. So we’ll call this other speed the “speed of accomplishment.”

And these two speeds?

They have almost no relation to each other, with the exception that the speed of accomplishment cannot exceed the speed of action unless someone else comes along and does the job for me while I’m asleep.

The speed of accomplishment is related more to location, availability of distraction, and stress levels.

You see …

If I’m in a familiar location, I can be distracted by little things that need doing that I am aware of, even if I can’t see them. If the location is familiar or not, the availability of distractions in my sight will also affect the speed of accomplishment.

And if I’m stressed in any way, physically or emotionally, I’m going to be more easily distracted by things that wouldn’t normally distract me.

And the analogy you knew was coming?

You know me so well. I’ve figured out that I’m like a one speed sewing machine doing a zigzag stitch. I’m moving fast, using lots of thread, stuff is definitely getting stitched together, but the seam I’m working on isn’t growing at the same speed as the distance I’m covering back and forth.

So, while it looks like I’m either just on or off, when I’m one, I really am working at two speeds all the time.

It’s another paradox of ADHD.

Dual Speed ADHD

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. (2017). Dual Speed ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 23, 2019, from


Last updated: 20 Dec 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Dec 2017
Published on All rights reserved.