Looking Past the Stereotype

Many people have a stereotypical picture in their head of what someone with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) orADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) looks like: hyperactive, loud, a whirlwind of energy and unchecked impulses, and probably a young kid. However, ADD/ADHD is not just a childhood disorder. Kids don’t simply grow out of ADD/ADHD, as if it’s a phase. In fact, the symptoms of ADD/ADHD often continue as children grow into adulthood and face life’s increasing pressures and demands.

People with ADD/ADHD struggle daily with self-regulation: regulating their attention, regulating their impulses in talking and action, and regulating their emotions. If you have trouble staying focused, getting organized, starting and completing your work, managing your time and money, and remembering all the little things in your daily life, you may very well be one of these people.

The chaos of living with unrecognized and untreated ADD/ADHD can take its toll: never-ending to-do lists, the stress of missed deadlines and forgotten appointments, aggravated friends and family members who just don’t understand why you can’t pull it together and self-recrimination over your lack of accomplishments.

The good news: life doesn’t have to be this way. Treatment can go a long way towards managing ADD/ADHD. But before you can manage the problem, you have to be able to identify it, starting with a thorough understanding of what ADD/ADHD looks like.

Learn about other common misconceptions about ADD/ADHD by reading Myths of ADHD.

I think I might have ADD/ADHD, but no one ever diagnosed me...

Often ADD/ADHD is not diagnosed at all, or only diagnosed much later in a person’s life. It is very possible that you or your friend are ADD/ADHD and don’t even know it.

Adults with ADD/ADHD have problems in six major areas of executive functioning:

  • Activation: Problems with organization, prioritizing, and starting tasks.
  • Focus: Problems with sustaining focus and resisting distraction, especially with reading.
  • Effort: Problems with motivation, sustained effort, and persistence.
  • Emotion: Difficulty regulating emotions and managing stress.
  • Memory: Problems with short-term memory and memory retrieval.
  • Action: Problems with self-control and self-regulation.

For a more detailed explanation of these view the Signs and Symptoms.

Life With ADD/ADHD

But wait, there’s more

Life with ADD/ADHD can be a frustrating merry-go-round of running late, not getting things done, and screwing up — or at least feeling as if you are. Keeping track of and completing even routine chores and work activities can seem overwhelming. But ADD/ADHD doesn’t cancel out intelligence, and people with ADD/ADHD often exhibit lots of creativity and imagination. And in those qualities are the seeds of skills and practices that can bring order to your chaotic world.

Managing ADD/ADHD centers on self-help and using appropriate medication. While ADD/ADHD is not a character flaw or something you caused, the disorder is an explanation, not an excuse. You still have to write that paper, read those chapters or articles, be on time for that meeting with your professor. It’s a challenge, and it’s up to you to recognize your strengths and use them to develop skills that will allow you to work better, be better organized, and interact with people more effectively. If you do, you can counteract the effects of ADD/ADHD. There are plenty of people and resources that can help you help yourself.

When to Get Help

If you feel trapped, behind in your school work, stuck, and you want more information see or just to talk to someone about how to help yourself or a friend, check in with CAPS to find out more about resources on and off campus.

You are not alone, we are here to help!