6 Tips for Managing Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD, ADHD)

ADD / ADHD Stressed Eyes
During my psychology grad program back in 1995 I was stumbling around the internet and I found a web site with some psychological tests that could be used to test one’s self and see if any dysfunction was found. I had a few minutes, so I tried a short personality type test and found that it agreed with my previous results administered by a counselor in my program a year before. I was found to be “INTJ” personality type according to this scale which was a short version of the Myers-Briggs instrument for personality type.

Then I saw the “ADD” test for Attention Deficit Disorder. Hmm, I thought… my brother has ADD and to a severe degree. I never thought that I should get tested for it – but, let me take a look and see what kind of questions they ask.

As I sat there and looked at the questions, answering them in my head at first and then later, writing down every answer… I was mesmerized. These questions were describing a pattern of behavior that was E-X-A-C-T-L-Y me. I found it fascinating. I eagerly read each question and responded as truthfully as possible. I had no idea that ADD was this. Hmm…

When the test was finished and I totaled up my score I found that I had scored something like 77 points. Hmmm… Not bad, a “C” level I guess. I think nothing to worry about. Then I saw the “key” at the bottom of the screen. It said if you score 25 points or higher you may have ADD and you should be tested by a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist… or some other mental health specialist.

Huh? 25? Wow, I tripled that. I sat there for a minute and re-tallied my score and re-read everything on the page about the test. Apparently I had taken it exactly the way it was intended to be taken. It took a few more minutes for reality to sink in to the squishy grey bulbous mass. I realized that having ADD probably for years and years, maybe over my whole lifetime explained a lot.

I went to a friend I know that was a mental health counselor. I asked her to give me the official test, whatever that was, for ADD as I wanted to make sure this was all true. She did, and the instrument showed I had a profound level of ADD or ADHD and that it was affecting nearly everything I did!

Wow. I knew that I wasn’t really like other people because I noticed that so many times I didn’t seem to fit in with the program. I get incredibly bored with common things quickly. I always seem to have a variety of things I’m thinking about at any one time. If you picture your mind as a dry-erase board where thoughts arise and go away… mine is full of every color of dry-erase marker. The white is nearly hidden because there is so much going on there, and more thoughts need to find a space to go. The mind starts to drag fingers across what was already written so it can write more. Yes, it’s that bad sometimes.

As I focus on something, some topic that I need to think about, for work or for school, I noticw that my attention span is in seconds. I was never able to concentrate much longer than ten seconds at a time on anything. To say this was debilitating is an understatement. Any paper I was taking notes on during class is filled with drawings, diagrams, jokes, ideas, and even pages for books I’ve yet to complete – none of it related to my lessons.

My whole life has been a whirlwind of events and activity (book coming soon). I’ve been on a rollercoaster of ADD for so long that I thought it was just normal. I thought it was just me. I thought that nobody could really concentrate for more than ten seconds at a time on any one thing. I thought that everybody got bored in a few seconds.

Anyway, this post isn’t about describing ADD and how my life has been affected by it. Suffice it to say that my life has been a direct expression of the ADD!

I wanted to write this post for a couple reasons, one being to show some of the signs of ADD and ask readers to at least take an online test to see if it might be an unseen problem in their own lives. The second reason I’m writing this blog post about ADD is so I could share with you some of the things that helped me with ADD and that might be able to help you too if you are suffering from it.

What is adult ADD/ADHD (with Hyperactivity) like?

In the book Driven To Distraction, Edward M. Hallowell described an experience of the “hyperactive” aspect of the ADHD disorder from a patient’s perspective:

…It’s like being super-charged all the time. You get one idea and you have to act on it, and then, what do you know, but you’ve got another idea before you’ve finished up with the first one, and so you go for that one, but of course a third idea intercepts the second, and you just have to follow that one, and pretty soon people are calling you disorganized and impulsive and all sorts of impolite words that miss the point completely. Because you’re trying really hard. It’s just that you have all these invisible vectors pulling you this way and that, which makes it really hard to stay on task.

Symptoms of Adult ADHD:

The Hallowell Center identifies the following indicators to consider when ADHD is suspected and recommends that individuals with at least twelve of the following behaviours since childhood— undergo professional testing:

  1. A sense of underachievement, of not meeting one’s goals (regardless of how much one has actually accomplished).
  2. Difficulty getting organized.
  3. Chronic procrastination or trouble getting started.
  4. Many projects going simultaneously; trouble with follow through.
  5. A tendency to say what comes to mind without necessarily considering the timing or appropriateness of the remark.
  6. A frequent search for high stimulation.
  7. An intolerance of boredom.
  8. Easy distractibility; trouble focusing attention, tendency to tune out or drift away in the middle of a page or conversation, often coupled with an inability to focus at times.
  9. Trouble in going through established channels and following “proper” procedure.
  10. Impatient; low tolerance of frustration.
  11. Impulsive, either verbally or in action, as an impulsive spending of money.
  12. Changing plans, enacting new schemes or career plans and the like; hot-tempered
  13. Physical or cognitive restlessness.
  14. A tendency toward addictive behaviour.
  15. Chronic problems with self-esteem.
  16. Inaccurate self-observation.
  17. Family history of AD/HD or manic depressive illness or depression or substance abuse or other disorders of impulse control or mood.


Here are My 6 Lifehacks for Managing ADD/ADHD:

1. Make lists and use post-its. There was a time after I found out I had ADD/ADHD that I was ‘list crazy’. Every morning I would wake up and write a list of what I needed to do for that day and what I wanted to do for that day, but that wasn’t essential. I followed that list every time I got distracted with something that became important in my mind because when my mind becomes focused on something – it’s very hard to get away from that. Focus comes rarely, but if it’s there – I never remember what else I had going on and I can lose hours doing something (sports usually) that takes time away from my other activities that I needed to do.

A person with ADD/ADHD has thoughts all day that pop into the head that require action. Unfortunately, a lot of times the action needs to be taken at a time in the future, and can’t be completed immediately as the thought comes. In order to keep up with all the thoughts in my head I had post-it notes of 4 different colors so I could write up a quick note and stick it to the pile of other post it notes of the same color.

I separated the notes by color to correspond with areas of my life… for instance: If I had a thought that I needed to study for my biology exam on Thursday instead of Wednesday I’d put that on a blue post it. Blue was for school. If I had realized that I had better run 8 miles slow instead of 4 miles fast because I hadn’t done enough LSD training (Long Slow Distance) I would put that on a pink post-it because pink was for activity/exercise/fun. And so on. I had post-its all over my computer, my wallet, in my pockets in my backpack, all through my books…

But, it made a difference since my level of stress went down a couple of notches because now – those thoughts weren’t just lost, as they would have been without the post-its. I HAD the thought written down, it was just finding it. Finding it on paper was much easier than bringing the thought back into my mind when I needed it. MUCH easier. So, post-it notes or some other list system might work for you.

2. Two words, Gingko Biloba. When I was studying for some of my graduate exams I used Gingko Biloba for a while and I experienced something I never had before… sustained concentration lasting for minutes… even up to an hour at a time. Not joking. This stuff is worked very well. I remember having to take it for a few days to build up a level in the system before it worked, but when I did so I found remarkable results. I couldn’t have been happier with the results. I’ve been away from the USA for a few years now, so I’m not sure what the health industry is saying about Gingko Biloba, but, if there are no real negative side effects I would strongly recommend someone with ADD/ADHD try this out as an alternative to Ritalin or other medications generally prescribed. Learn more about my Gingko Biloba experience here.

3. Take advantage of the time when you first wake up and you’re lying in bed awake, but relaxed. If you’re like me, even with ADD, this time when I first wake up in the morning is the time when my mind is nearly completely uncluttered with thoughts. I can think clearly for as long as I lay there, sometimes I do just that for an hour as it’s remarkable that the mind is in this quiet, anti-ADD state. I use this time to think about what best to focus on during the day and to resolve any problems that need looked at. I am amazed, and even to the point of being disturbed about the level of concentration that occurs during this time, it’s so unlike any state of the mind after I’m showered and running around during the day. Not sure it happens for everyone, but it’s worth a look.

4. Meditate! I meditated using a Vipassana type method where I just focused on the breath in and out and the feeling of it at the tip of my nostrils. After a while I found that the mind actually was able to stop during meditation. I had no movement at all. No thoughts existed. It was a cool state that I’m glad I found as it offered a lot of relief, whenever I sat I could either calm the mind or stop it. It’s a good feeling when feeling too frazzled or when the dry erase market board (mind) is overrun with 6 thought processes all trying to write on the board at the same time. The coolest tool I got from meditating is that anytime I choose I can stop what I’m doing and focus on a couple breaths – in, out, in out, in out, and the mind has calmed down remarkably from the state prior to watching the breath.

(If you’re interested in meditation, I wrote two books at Amazon, both are in the “Meditation for Beginners” series. Query with my name, Vern Lovic.)

5. Exercise. For me there are a couple kinds of exercise. There is competitive and there is solo. As I get older I prefer the solo type because I’m able to think a little bit as I do it. I especially find that LSD running or bicycling works well for thinking for extended periods of time. The faster I go, the less I am able to concentrate on anything except the movement – the exercise. This is also a good break for the brain and something that should be enjoyed when you can.

6. Try hard to catch yourself doing 8 things at once and eliminate 7 of them. Today as I write this I’m typing, listening to some Radiohead and other mixed music… I have drawing paper to my left that I pulled out because I thought I’m going to get this urge to draw something for a cartoon project I’m working on. I have the internet going in the background, though I’m not using it. I just made coffee and I’m sipping it occasionally. I’ve got all those things going on while I write, and since I’m used to this – I’m OK writing under these conditions. If I find that I’m NOT able to concentrate on writing, I’d eliminate the other things so I could better focus.

Persons with ADD/ADHD just naturally add things to their personal environment that causes new stimulation and pulls their attention away from what they really need to accomplish. If you can catch yourself doing this and eliminate all those extra sources of stimulation, you’ll be able to concentrate on what matters more easily.

I’ve never gone to a psychiatrist to seek medication for my ADD/ADHD. I am anti-medication, preferring to find lifehacks that work in it’s place. I fear relying on medication since I made it to age 29 without even knowing I had ADD/ADHD. I didn’t go insane during all those years, so as long as it doesn’t get worse – I think I can manage without medication.

OK! I hope these six lifehacks help some of you with ADD/ADHD!

Best of Life!

Vern

[Top image by English106 at Flickr]

33 thoughts on “6 Tips for Managing Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD, ADHD)”

  1. Hmm, sounds as if I might have this too. I fulfill quite a few of the criteria, particularly the procrastination, the distractability, the multitasking, the addictive behavior, lack of organization and history of depression and manic depression in my family! Thanks for the tips, they should help me.

  2. Hi Vern,
    I just read your article on Priscilla Palmer’s site and from there came on over and read this one. I really like your blog and love your article on ADD. Glad you have come up with helpful tips for people to live with ADD. I just posted on my blog this week about the over prescribing of medicine for it and that it can be treated and dealt with naturally. Would love for you to take a look and tell me what you think. I’m definitely subscribing to your blog — thanks for the excellent writing! Gratefully, jenny

  3. 1. I can’t seem to REMEMBER to take my g-biloba.
    2. I’ve already forgotten the rest of what I read except that I have a tendency to RARELY say what I want because I spend too much time trying to firm the words ‘just so’.
    :(

  4. Wow. I feel your pain. The worst for me, the worst part of ADHD I think – is that I forget things, many, many things that would affect my life if I was able to remember them and do them. So much gets lost in the steamtrain of information that’s flying through my head all the time. I used to carry notepads, postits, voice recorder… but now – nahh, let it go – if it comes back it must have been good – and I’ll do it. If not, no matter – there’s too much to keep track of anyway!

    For #2. Are you talking about when you write or speak? For me I lose my train of thought so often during speech… that hurts. But, when I write I don’t lose that much for some reason. Guess I can always type a quick note out of sequence in the middle of whatever I’m doing so I don’t forget it.

    :) Thanks for writing! Best of Life! Vern

  5. Hello Vern,
    ADD & ADHD seem to have much in common with the Manic side of Bi-Polar Disease. The rushing thoughts, starting many things,but,not finishing any of them. Addictive personality,inappropriate remarks. Yep we has a lot in common my friend. I’ll try the .Ginko Biloba this month. If I can resolve my problems with the Veterans Administration and maintain my Disability income.
    Best wishes,
    airamericaman

    1. @ Airamericaman – Thanks for writing in Lee. I tried Ginkgo again recently and I have to say I didn’t notice any difference in my mind – in my state of concentration… in anything really. When I originally was taking it – I was quite stressed from jamming too much into the little time I had. I was doing 18 hours of graduate program credits, big brother volunteering with 2 kids for over 20 hours each week, working at a mental health facility in Tampa and trying to keep up with a serious beach volleyball addiction that required attention. Now, not stressed about much. I also think that once I meditated back in 1998 the ADD/ADHD took a change of course… and I’ve been able to pull it together at times when I need to. I actually wrote 2 huge books recently – so I know, when I want to – I can focus for extended periods of time. I’ve been at my most creative over the last couple years – not being affected as intensely as I once was by attention deficit disorder…

      Good luck with getting your disability more stable than it seems to be.

      :) Vern

  6. I’m sure you are all much younger than me! I am 71 years old and was diagnosed when I was about 61 and working in a very stressful place. My work life as a secretary type was always very stressful due to my difficulty with details. I was always in trouble. If I had known I had ADD when I was young it would have changed my life. As it is now it is by the grace of God that I am doing so well now. My husband of ten years passed away almost 6 years ago and he taught me many things I didn’t know and was a great coach. It is difficult and sometimes rewarding to be alone. I won’t go into my past as it would take too long! I am grateful I am retired and no longer have to deal with the pain and stress of the work place. I would like to be better organized and more focused but I still usually accomplish what I need to get done. Although it would be much more if I wasn’t so unfocused. I will stop writing as a symptom of my ADD is I go on and on and the subject seems to shift and I probably lose peoples attention. Thanks for the website! I was looking for information on how others deal with ADD. I have time to do that now if I remember!

    1. Great comment – thanks Jean! ADD is pretty debilitating… and apparently wasn’t even called ADD until the 1990’s in the UK and not much before that in the USA. Thanks for writing!

  7. Great article. I actually came across it while I was trying to focus on a book I’m reading to learn a database programming language. While I was reading your article I saw similarities. I have the book in front of me, the internet opened, music playing, sipping cafe con leche…meanwhile every time my dog comes up to me I get up to play with her a few minutes, then maybe I’ll see something I should put away, then get a glass of water. Ahhh. So I started to Google things about concentration, ADD, and boom your article.

    I find it so hard to concentrate on things that aren’t extremely interesting to me, and the worst part is I know it. I was recently in an interview for a, in my opinion, not so interesting position. I kept zoning out on the guys company overview. Imagine a little me in my brain slapping my mind screaming “focus! this is for a job”, lol.

    I’m 29, and just realized I may have ADHD. I’ll give the lifehacks a try, but it’s just nice to see I’m not alone or the spaciest person I know. Thanks!

    A.

    1. LOL – great comment. Yeah, it’s funny when – at the age of 30 or so you realize you’ve been undiagnosed until now. Explains a lot, in my case anyway. Who IS the spaciest person you know? I’m trying to think of the spaciest person I know and nobody coming to mind… maybe my friend Andy from college in Miami… Yeah, that’s him. Awesome guy, and we laughed to together more than we had a right to. Best Arlene, Vern

  8. I am the mother of 22 year old twins. The boy has high functioning autism which includes a hefty element of ADHD. The girl has ADD plus a collection of interacting and compounding neurological and neuro-chemical challenges. They are both brilliant, creative, amazing, ethical, heartful entities that the world should feel blessed to have among the six billion. Since my son is also autistic, his ADHD winds up being absorbed by the larger diagnosis. He wants to be a writer, and he has the talent. What is hobbling him in College is his terrible difficulty working through an entire piece of writing from beginning to end without wild tangents, without losing patience, without giving up, without losing focus entirely and just signing off, his initial inspirations and thoughts having been evicted from his mind. In contrast to your determination not to resort to medication, my son must have some pharmaceutical assistance if he is to function in the big world. Believe me when I swear to you that I agonized over the “to drug or not to drug” issue from every angle. I have never agreed to medication for him because it was a relief to me, not him. What can you advise this budding genius do to recognize and adapt, accomodate and deal with his challenges?

    1. Hi Tobie,

      Thanks for writing – I’m struggling with what to say since I don’t know the entire situation and don’t want to assume much.

      My first question is – why is your son trying to complete college at all? I don’t understand trying to make kids with autism, adhd, dyslexia, and a hundred other things attend college at all. Apparently your family thought he could make it through and that it’s a worthwhile goal? Though my ADD/ADHD was / is profound the importance of hitting my goals was always primary and I could pull together in brief spurts to knock out whatever I had to knock out – even up through grad school. There were tests I couldn’t make myself study for because my mind was somewhere else, and then another place and another… but, I made it through college by killing myself really. Was it worth it? No, I’d say not.

      I didn’t have autism though. Your son has gotta be going through hell trying to get past college. I don’t see a reason for college if he’s going to be a writer. What he really needs is some structured environment that he can write in – however that might look. Writing is an amazing craft that one can just go with. Sure you have a lot to learn. Does one need to sit through 120 credits of college, 90 of which don’t relate directly to writing and improving his writing skills? No, I don’t think so.

      Medication can work wonders. My brother, who also has ADD/ADHD, is brilliant with music. Composing music, playing many different instruments, writing songs – he’s brilliant beyond anyone I’ve met. He took medication a lot and is doing OK as a software tester currently. He’s not following his dream – but, he’s making it in life – supporting his family… he has told me he notices his creativity takes a hit when he’s on the medication.

      Medication is definitely necessary in some cases, and by all means I should have gone to a psychiatrist and got on some pronto. My choice not to was because I was already 26 years old. I was finished with my BA and just starting my MA. I thought, “Ahh, I’ve already made it this far – just push it and you’ll make it through this too.” And I did. It was a period of high stress – but I made it through.

      In hindsight there was no point in college at all. Upon graduation I’d been working in the mental health field for 6+ years already and decided to jump into IT – fixing computers, building them… and all that. This led to doing Search Engine Optimization, Web Development, and working as an Internet Marketing Consultant to companies that needed internet marketing plans and revamps of what they were doing online.

      If your son wants to be a writer, seriously wants to be a writer, the door is wide open at this time. Start writing a blog, or write a book, or write online magazine type articles, travel articles, whatever he wants. The field is so wide open… I wrote a book two years ago. 120,000+ words. Do they call that an epic? Anyway, I wrote it because I really wanted to. Though my first attempt was not good enough to sell to a publisher, and I find errors in it all the time as I re-read some of the chapters – I got many compliments on it. Could I be a book writer? Maybe. It’s just not where my head is right now.

      Writing as a career is great for someone with ADHD because they can focus as long as they can – bang out an article or a chapter… and then come back to it and do more later.

      Writing is learned by doing. Writing, writing, and more of it.

      If you’re applying any pressure to insist your son finish college I think that’s not right… I think if he wants to do it – he can at some point down the line. Instead, try to focus on the strengths he has. Being in school probably isn’t one. I don’t know any kid with ADD/ADHD/Autism that thrives in a school environment. I don’t know whether college was your idea or his – but, it’s probably not such a great idea in my opinion. Of course I don’t know the whole story – the big picture, just acting on what I can guess from what you’ve said.

      Good luck to your son as he goes through life with this issue… Oh, there is hope for a major change…

      In 1998 I started to meditate. Vipassana style… Just focusing on the breath.

      In 1999 I had gone quite far down the path – experiencing the levels of jhana and a stillness of mind that was amazing – and virtually wiped out any trace of ADD/ADHD for a number of years. I didn’t meditate for years after that – and only recently started again. My current state is that I can hold my mind focused on whatever I want for as long as I want – I completed the book I mentioned in 2 months of writing. That was pushing it… but, it’s possible now – whereas before meditation I wouldn’t have been able to write more than 50 pages… and I’d done that multiple times on different books I’ve started over the years.

      Meditation in this way – focusing on the breath is a really great way to moderate the ADD/ADHD. I should write more about it and what happens and post here when I get the time – or maybe just shoot a video as they’re easier and faster than writing. I just looked for some articles about meditation and the effect it had on my ADD but cannot find any good overview of what happened. I think I’ll post a video in the next week here – stay tuned.

      As I look back on this response I realize I’ve not made it step-by-step or in much of a logical order. Hope you can follow this without your head spinning!

      Good luck with everything! Please respond if you have time… if not, no worries…

      1. Hi Vern,

        I really appreciate the article, as well as the responses. After years and years of being frustrated at myself for procrastinating, not following through with things and generally messing things up, I had an epiphany while lying awake in bed one night unable to sleep. I realized all these issues I had might be related to ADD. I got up right there and then, did some research on the internet and realized that I’ve been experiencing so many of the symptoms for so long. That happened recently and I’ve been trying to research ways in which to cope with ADD.

        Like you I’m completely against medication, especially for a condition like this. I do believe that the modern fast-paced society we live in contributes tremendously to this disorder in many individuals. Never before in history has a society had so many distractions to deal with, so many messages coming in at the same time. In my opinion television is probably the worst thing for anyone with ADD and probably something I would not let my kids watch until a certain age.

        Anyway, I too have been lucky enough to practice Vipassana. This was about a year and a half ago, in India before I even realized I had ADD. It was a 10 day course that involved no talking (that right, not a word for 10 days), no tv, no cell phones, not even exercise – except for walking. You were fed a vegetarian diet the whole time and you basically practiced meditation for hours on end. It was truly one of the most difficult and rewarding experiences of my life. After completing the course my girlfriend was astonished at how much it affected me. I was extremely focused and calm, unlike the perpetually distracted person I normally was. Unfortunately, I stopped practicing consistently afterward but plan on taking the course again and following through with the meditation. The course focuses on a lot more than just calming your mind and improving your attention, but the level of mental calmness I was able to gain as a result was amazing.

        I’m now trying to incorporate many positive habits into my life to help me overcome this. I guess like many people with ADD the hardest part is having all these dreams and aspirations for yourself and feeling like there is an invisible elastic rope pulling you back.

        Cheers!

        1. Hi Sirius –

          Thanks for writing, and I love your name by the way!

          Meditation is what everyone studying ADD should be looking at. It’s quite amazing what it can do. You basically had one 10 day course and it affected your ability to focus. For me – it’s been some years and I’m able to pull it together now to write a 130,000 page book and many websites online. I wouldn’t say I’m cured, but it’s been a tremendous help. When I choose to I can focus as long as I need to. Just knowing what’s going on – why I’m getting angry as I’m hearing a plastic bag flap from the fan or the wind outside – is a great relief! Any extraneous noise is aggravating and must be stopped or recognized as unstoppable in order for me to continue focusing on something.

          I think a regular meditation program is strongly indicated for anyone with ADD. Unfortunately it’d be hard to get kids to practice – which is when we really need it!

          Thanks again for writing – yes, TV is a horrible thing!

          Best of Life!

          Vern

      2. Amazing that I chanced upon this answer of yours five years after I wrote the comment about my son. So you may never read this note in response to your response. Maybe in five years, yes? You were wise when you gave the caveat that you didn’t know the whole story and therefore, you tempered your take on the situation. It’s ironic that you brought up the serious question of why one would want to put one’s autistic son through college if it caused him such grief. When I went to college, it took me, let’s see, five different places of higher education getting high grades and being completely miserable to realize that it wasn’t education that I disliked, it was the institution. I’m in the arts, myself, and didn’t see any reason to put myself through the agony, so I left the halls of the Universities to seek my own direction. That’s when I started truly learning. My son, like myself, is basically an autodidact by nature. He is sometimes like a walking encyclopedia and loves nothing more than pursuing learning. I could go on and tell you what astonishing achievements he’s accomplished without any instruction from officialdom. He wanted desperately to go to College. I rattled my brain over whether he really needed the grueling experience, especially knowing some of his gaps in attention and his dislike of being directed to do X in X way in the manner that Dr.X wanted him to do it and to do it precisely at X time in X format using X reference material to prove himself (like he needed proof!) and produce the evidence in Xactly the way the instructor wanted him to do it. Tests can be odious for those who think the way he does, and actually entirely outside the learning process. He sees the absurdity. But he wanted the exposure to new ideas, a different spectrum of experiences and information than I alone would be able to provide him. His father, a large headed physicist, did what many men do when their “issue” is not what they’d hoped for (terrific influence on his “disabled” children to feel his judgment), he walked out when they were 17, distanced himself physically whereas he’d only been distant emotionally previous to his sudden abandonment. Whereas his father did have a good living, I’m in the expressive arts and have been dedicated to raising my twins, so I don’t have the resources. So, we became impoverished instantly. The practicality of my son’s being able to make his way in this confusing world took on new meaning, since I couldn’t provide for him. The dilemma is: does he want to get a fine boring job working in a Safeway bagging groceries for the rest of his life, wasting his mind as well as his soul, or would he rather find some kind of fulfilling and self sustaining life in which he can learn to steer his own ship. Does he want to be on government dole where he would forever be dependent on being poor enough for public assistance? I’m not going to be here forever to be guard, translator, advocate, friend, companion, mother. He will have to save his own life. To do so, he needed to figure out how to go about it. What did he want to do with his life? He knows he can’t just keep studying and gathering mastery over new fascinations for the rest of his life without regard to the manner in which he finances this adventure. It turned out that even though formal education can succeed in killing the passion in almost any field, he has also gained more self discipline, cognitive long term conception of goals and process. You want to be an artist? Go try that in this country, especially with a profound disability like autism. I would be open to him diving into other ways to discover his path than formal education. In fact I’d be more open to it than college. But this is where he wanted to be. Quite different than my imposing my criterion on him, I have supported his decisions while giving him the benefit of my assistance and experience in finding his path when he hasn’t been able to grab the reins like “neuro normals” do. There’s nothing inherently inferior about being autistic. But our culture makes it so, and makes it difficult just to get on getting on unless you travel with the herd to one extent or another. I am greatly abbreviating a huge realm of painful deep thinking in this little blurb for you. Suffice it to say that in the process of “schooling” around in college, he found out where he wants to go. He wants to work with autistic children. He’d be amazing at it. Who would understand them better? Now the problem is figuring out how he’s going to be allowed to do that by teaching himself the field? He’s going to need formal certification of some kind if parents are going to trust him with their children. Let’s just say that we’re working on it. And the situation may change, as most situations do. So rather than look on in horror at what I must be doing to my son, wish us luck, man. We’re going to need it. I do understand everything you wrote about. And remember that this was an extremely abbreviated rendition of the whole situation. Also remember that he has a twin sister who needs just as much time, love and energy getting her where she needs to go. You can always write back to me, five years after the first fact. Thanks for your thoughts. Really.

  9. Hey vern!

    Great article! I started researching ADD about 4 days ago, and was starting to think I have it. Well, as I read more and more articles over the internet, it seems to describe me very well. I am turning 17 in a couple days, so I guess this is kinda like a birthday gift. Haha, “Happy Birthday! You have ADD!”

    Anyway, at first I was hesitant to believe it, but it would explain a lot about me, particularly my short attention span, inability to draw out important information in conversations, my easily distracted and wandering mind, my inability to work without music playing, my disorganization, and my irritation at minor distractions.

    At this point, I’m fully convinced I have ADD. Your article is the most helpful one that I’ve found thus far!

    I don’t think I should tell my parents though that I have ADD. Knowing them, all they will do is simply blow me off, tell me that I don’t have it, it’s all in my head, and I’m just trying to make excuses. But I have several ADD friends who are going to help me. Now that I know that there is a problem, I can address it. I’ll stop writing now because I’ll just go on and on… maybe that’s another symptom?

    Anyhow, great article man!

    1. Hey Musicman – It’s good that you find out now – I’d encourage you to go to your school counselor and see if they have a test for ADD. The only way to know you really have it and to what degree is to test for it. Mine was profound. My brother’s too. We kind of bumbled through life on ADD until well into adulthood where we realized – hey, we’re not like other people. How come they can concentrate on one thing? Anyway – seriously, go get tested! The online tests you’ll find may/may not be valid. They should be assessed by a competent person who’s job it is to look at these things! Good luck – nice email address by the way – I LIKE that.

        1. No, that was years ago! Later I verified it in class – was getting my master’s in a counseling psychology field and we all gave each other tests of all sort. See if there are any ADD tests recommended by APA – American Psychological Association online… maybe you can find one?

  10. Never has anything effected me as much as finding out about this! I read a book – ”You mean i’m not lazy stupid or crazy” after my learner support tutor suggested I have a test. Its like a bibliography. Its really amazing to know why you are the way you are. Scary… but amazing. Without sounding too over the top I feel like my life is starting over again. thankyou for this post. Brilliant! :)

  11. Everyone nowadays has ADD or ADHD. How can anyone be cool without a psychiatric disorder? But I would recommend claiming to be bipolar instead. Now there’s a really hip disease… it gets you more street cred as a tortured artist. ADD sounds kind of lame in comparison.

    1. John,

      Please do not speak of things you don’t understand. No, it’s not “hip” to have ADD or ADHD. It’s a daily, chronic struggle. Maybe you need to look into yourself and find some sensitivity to things other are going through that you cannot comprehend.

      Best,

      1. John, I agree with Mohamed. I am 46 years old and have A.D.D. I don’t like labels of any kind, but it is certainly helpful when we understand what we have. I don’t believe that everyone nowadays has A.D.D. and I don’t think that it’s cool to have a psychiatric disorder. It’s all about understanding. With A.D.D., it’s like 5 movies playing in our head at one time, all of a different genre. If we could harness all of that energy and information, we’d be brilliant & happy. In the meantime, we struggle with organization, with focus & concentration, self esteem, trying to ‘fit in’ to make life easier for others because we think that it will make our lives easier, we are highly creative and need an outlet & release for that creativity, we have so many wonderful ideas, but they overlap each other and unless someone else has A.D.D. that we are talking to, our whole idea gets misconstrued. Bipolar is a whole different ballgame. None of this is about having a ‘cool label’, it’s about understanding that we are not alone and strategizing our lives to make life more understandable. It is unfortunate that you find it ‘reasonable’ to judge others. I live by ‘do not judge others’. At all. I hope that you are not judged. I hope that you are happy and that should you find yourself struggling in an area of your life, may you be presented with a compassionate and understanding awakening and that your troubles overcome. Peace to all.

  12. Vern, thanks for ur valuable blog….i’m quite uncertain abt my future studies knowing the fact that i have ADHT…so i would request all my fellow ADHT to help me by sharing there true experiences with me…Help me guys….

  13. Great post. I’m 39 and have struggled with ADD for many years. I used to take Gingko but for some reason I stopped. I will definitely start again.

  14. A instrument for measuring severe ADD?
    That’s nonexistent I would say…

    Keeps bugging me in my mind, because you seem to be anti-medication, and your 2nd suggestions is a substitute at most.

    Don’t judge on medication, I’t gave me back my creativity because I could free myself of the mess ADD put me in. Big part of that mess is the judging by all those people thinking they know, while they are ignorant and stupid to keep on giving the wrong advice, saying: try some harder.

    Don’t try! DO it YOUR way, if you have ADD, they don’t understand how you are wired, find out for yourself, don’t tell anyone when you try medication would be my advice. But when you do, know that it isn’t a solution, it’s a tool. When used wrong, or to high of a dose it’s just a big of a problem as without. And it’s hard get it just right, just as it is hard to live a steady life, I KNOW, but ADD is preventing me from getting there…

    Especially from someone who claims to have ADD, I would expect a more open minded attitude, maybe you didn’t have to put up with enough shit in your life to know how hard it gets for some of us.

    Psychology grad program did you say?
    Did you pay ATTENTION?

    Sorry if I offend you, my rebellion ADD injustice allergy kicked in.

    1. Hi Frodo,

      I’m 4,000 words into what is probably going to be a 9,000 word article at one of my sites, but I saw your comment pop up in email and had to respond. Thanks for taking the time to respond!

      I am anti-medication, just because all that has been said about it. My brother has ADD/ADHD to a severe degree, even worse than I had it. Mine was profound, his was downright rampant. He is on medication. He has told me that the medications he has taken over the years have immediately made him less creative. He is also a creative freak of nature. He has written hundreds – maybe thousands of songs since he was a teen. I mean written lyrics and the music. He plays many musical instruments. He writes screenplays. Poems. Books. Musicals. I took some medication when I was in college – about 1993, undergrad to see what would happen. I started grinding my teeth at night. I stopped before I felt any lack of creativity.

      I am open-minded about medication. If it works for you – take it, by all means. If you don’t need creativity, or if it doesn’t affect you that way or any other substantially negative way – take it man!

      But, meditation has shown me that ADD/ADHD at the profound level I had it, can be conquered. Virtually eliminated. Before I meditated, there wasn’t a chance in the world I could sit down and write a 300 page book. I have done so numerous times now. I have written 27 books and millions of words at websites – aimforawesome.com, mikefook.com, thaipulse.com, vernlovic.com, jhana8.com, thailandsnakes.com, etc. I could have never done that without meditation.

      The state I’m in now is pretty amazing. If I concentrate on something, I can be totally in the moment, focused on just that. I enjoy having distractions, like music. As I write this, I’m listening to Buju Banton’s “Wanna be loved.” It’s a bass-pounding song that would have destroyed my concentration prior to meditation. Now it’s just a nice addition while I write.

      Lol, not sure what you mean when you say, “Psychology grad program di dyou say? Did you pay ATTENTION?”

      Grad school was extremely hard to get through. I pulled a 3.84 average, but still, it took so much effort to do that. I had to study simple things over and over and over just to get it in my head because my mind was everywhere but focused on studying the material in front of me.

      Anyway, hope this helps. Not really too sure what you’re getting at. Who knows, maybe I addressed it?

      Cheers man! Try meditation. Here are two books I’ve written on it:

      Meditation for Beginners – a 22-Day Course
      Meditation for Beginners – Secrets for Success

      They are less than $5 at Amazon (each).

      If you can’t afford it and want them, let me know, I’ll send them gratis.

      Cheers man!

      Vern

  15. Thanks for your reply, especially for your flow interruption.
    Still wondering about that diagnostic device though! ;-)

    My point was, that I didn’t try medication for four years, because my family\friends are anti-medication. I don’t need it all my life, I do know that medication helps me out of the mess I’m in right now. (Not Ritalin, dextro, the pure stuff :D )

    Meditation actually got me in this shit, because I denied having ADD for myself later on, when I was on a roll again. So I let my guard down and shit came flooding back in, with a vengeance! :-D

    While I do agree meditation is a good thing, for everyone, I don’t agree with all the misinformation that is out there. I do believe food, meditation, fish oil and exercise help, but I also believe for some of us, medication is the way to get a grip on all the piles of dodo we create. The slide down wasn’t stopped by meditation, it actually got worse.

    In my case, the struggle was hard because of disbelief and judgment from close relatives. That’s what bugs me a lot I guess, people telling they have the answer while no person is a like, especially ADD talents!

    Now, all that meditation also brought spirituality, so I don’t blame anyone anymore, but I do take a stand nowadays to make this point: “Don’t exclude medication as an option, it isn’t a conspiracy, it isn’t a solution, it’s a tool. For some of us very helpfull to dig out piles of dodo!”

    Same cause, different approach. ;-)
    Cheers, all the best!

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