University of Buffalo is teaming up with Coursera to offer a massive open online course (MOOC) about ADHD. Titled "ADHD: Everyday Strategies for Elementary Students," the course is designed for teachers and parents and led by a professor at Buffalo's Graduate School of Education.
Here in the ADHD blogosphere, we talk a lot about ways ADHD awareness can be improved in the general population and common misconceptions people have about ADHD. It's great that we have these discussions because the more we're able to spread an accurate picture of what ADHD is, the better it is for all of us in the long run. But today I want to talk about a group of people we really shouldn't have to spread ADHD awareness to: doctors. It's to be expected that your average person off the street won't know much about ADHD, but doctors are supposed to know better. It's their job, after all.
Describing inattention in ADHD as not being able to concentrate has always seemed like something of an understatement to me. It's the kind of description you would give if you saw someone being inattentive, but it doesn't really capture what inattention is like in the first person. When you have ADHD, it's not simply that you can't concentrate. It's that concentrating can actually be painful.
We didn't do ourselves any favors when we decided to talk about this disorder in terms of attention deficits. ADHD isn't about a simple lack of attention as much as a lack of control over attention that leads us to pay too much attention to some things and not enough attention to others. The “deficit” terminology helps drive the simplistic ideas about what ADHD is that we encounter so frustratingly often. It suggests that our disorder is mostly just a quantitative lack of something. But ADHD is more about a qualitative difference in how we pay attention.
Life with ADHD can be chaotic and overwhelming. Being disorganized and having trouble planning ahead can result in things that shouldn't be a problem spiraling out of control. One way to manage this side of ADHD is to simplify. The less there is to organize, the lower the demand on your organizational skills. Of course, the trick is to simplify in ways that don't make your life any less fulfilling.
Failure to plan ahead. The ADHD symptom you forget you have until it's too late. Not planning ahead well can wreak chaos on pretty much any aspect of your life, leading to broken commitments and unnecessary stress. So why do people with ADHD keep making the same mistake over and over again?
Every election year in the United States is a study in the limitations of "the media." This year, the fact that Donald Trump has a legitimate shot at being elected president of the United States tells you pretty much all you need to know about what kind of job the media has done making sure voters are informed.
When we think of ADHD symptoms, we typically think of things like not being able to sustain attention or being impatient. These specific, local symptoms are the basis for diagnosis, but over the course of a life with ADHD they add up to larger trends. Beyond the day-to-day symptoms of ADHD, certain patterns often show up in the lives of adults with ADHD.