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ADHD Do-Overs

When you have ADHD, sometimes you have to do things twice because you weren’t paying attention the first time. And if you aren’t paying attention the second time, you can always try a third time.

Reading is an example. If you have ADHD, there’s a good chance you often find yourself reading something without processing what the words actually mean. You’re going through all the motions of reading, except the part where you actually pay attention to what you’re reading.

Try AgainSo when you catch yourself having read through several paragraphs with no memory of what any of them were about, you go back and start from the beginning.

The same thing can happen if you’re watching a video or listening to something. Just go back a few minutes, try again.

Of course, not every situation in life has a “rewind” button. If you’re talking to someone and zone out, it would be nice to move the conversation back a few minutes and get a chance to hear everything over again, but that’s not always possible.

This is why learning in lecture formats can spell problems for students with ADHD, too. Again, the convenient thing would be to have the whole class wait while you politely request that the teacher begin the lecture over again, but that’s not really how it works. So you try to find your way back to the train of the lecture, filling in the gaps you missed – until your attention starts to wander again, and the drone of your teacher’s voice recedes into the background of your consciousness.

Textbooks, videos and the like are more forgiving to lapses of attention because you can always go back for a do-over. Of course, having to repeatedly go back and reread the same paragraph can make progress frustratingly slow, but at least you have as many second chances as you can tolerate.

It’s an interesting question. What’s better: having to do things again and again because you weren’t paying attention the first time, or even the second – or only getting one chance at something, but messing it up because you weren’t paying attention? We can call that “the ADHDer’s dilemma.”

In the meantime, yes, we know it’s frustrating when you have to repeat yourself. But please just be patient with us – we’re also trying to learn to be patient with ourselves!

Image: Flickr/Sean MacEntee

ADHD Do-Overs

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on education, learning disabilities and technology. He received his B.A. in 2014 and was diagnosed with ADHD at the beginning of his college studies. Neil also works for a music education non-profit and hopes to help create an education system that can better serve students with ADHD.

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2017). ADHD Do-Overs. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2018, from


Last updated: 24 Mar 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Mar 2017
Published on All rights reserved.