Easily bored, sensitive to distractions, creative, and intense. If you grew up with ADHD symptoms, chances are you always felt “different.” Now here’s a scientific explanation of the neurological underpinnings of behaviors and feelings associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Learn about the ADHD nervous system!
Most adults with ADHD have always known that they think differently. They were told by parents, teachers, employers, spouses, and friends that they did not fit the common mold and that they had better shape up in a hurry if they wanted to make something of themselves.
It seems odd to call a condition a disorder when the condition comes with so many positive features. People with an ADHD-style nervous system tend to be great problem-solvers. They wade into problems that have stumped everyone else and jump to the answer. They are likable people with a sense of humor. They have what Paul Wender called “relentless determination.” When they get hooked on a challenge, they tackle it with one approach after another until they master the problem — and they may lose interest entirely when it is no longer a challenge.
The main obstacle to understanding and managing ADHD has been the unstated and incorrect assumption that individuals with ADHD could and should be like the rest of us. For neurotypicals and adults with ADHD alike, here is a detailed portrait of why people with ADHD do what they do.
The ADHD world is curvilinear. Past, present, and future are never separate and distinct. Everything is now. People with ADHD live in a permanent present and have a hard time learning from the past or looking into the future to see the inescapable consequences of their actions. “Acting without thinking” is the definition of impulsivity, and one of the reasons that individuals with ADHD have trouble learning from experience.
It also means that people with ADHD aren’t good at ordination — planning and doing parts of a task in order. Tasks in the neurotypical world have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Individuals with ADHD don’t know where and how to start, since they can’t find the beginning. They jump into the middle of a task and work in all directions at once. Organization becomes an unsustainable task because organizational systems work on linearity, importance, and time.
People with ADHD Never Stop
By the time many people with ADHD are adolescents, their physical hyperactivity has been pushed inward and hidden. But it is there and it still impairs the ability to engage in the moment, listen to other people, to relax enough to fall asleep at night, and to have periods of peace.
So when distractibility and impulsivity are minimized to normal levels by stimulant medication, a person with ADHD may not be able to use his new calmer state of being. They are still driven forward internally. By adolescence, most people with ADHD-style nervous systems have acquired the social skills necessary to cover up that they are not present.
But they rarely get away with it entirely. When they tune back into what has gone on while they were lost in their thoughts, the world has moved on without them. Uh-oh. They are lost and do not know what is going on, what they missed, and what is now expected of them. Their reentry into the neurotypical world is unpleasant and disorienting. To individuals with ADHD, the external world is not as bright as the fantastic ideas they had while lost in their own thoughts.
Implications from ADHD
Many people with ADHD find that the feedback they get from other people is different from what they perceive. They find out, many times (and often too late), that the other people were right all along. It isn’t until something goes wrong that they are able to see and understand what was obvious to everybody else. Then, they come to believe that they can’t trust their own perceptions of what is going on. They lose self-confidence. Even if they argue it, many people with ADHD are never sure that they are right about anything.
People with ADHD may not be able to recognize the benefits of medication, even when those benefits are obvious. If a patient sees neither the problems of ADHD nor the benefits of treatment, he finds no reason to continue treatment.
Individuals with ADHD often see themselves as misunderstood, unappreciated, and attacked for no reason. Alienation is a common theme. Many think that only another person with ADHD could possibly “get” them.
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Original article published by ADDitude Mag.