Archive for May 20th, 2010

My Mind on ADHD…

On the ride home, I was listening to the radio. For me, listening to the radio is either a very active thing, or a very inactive thing. Most of the time, I’m not really paying attention, just using it as background noise. Then something will happen unexpectedly in the song, and I’ll be confused. This song in particular had a weird siren thing going on in the background, at which point I thought the cops were following me. They weren’t.

This time.

But it reminded me of going through the DSM-IV criteria for ADHD with my therapist. For inattentive ADHD (mine), you should exhibit 6 of these 9 criteria:

  1. Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
  2. Often has trouble keeping attention on tasks or play activities.
  3. Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  4. Often does not follow instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions).
  5. Often has trouble organizing activities.
  6. Often avoids, dislikes, or doesn’t want to do things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
  7. Often loses things needed for tasks and activities (such as toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools).
  8. Is often easily distracted.
  9. Often forgetful in daily activities.

I exhibit all 9, just so you know. But for most of them, I’ve developed ways to cope. The music thing is  a perfect example. When people are talking to me, I can generally follow them most of the time. But I’ve also learned to watch them when they talk. That way, I am not only having the auditory stimulation, but also the visual stimulation from their face. Bonus points if they talk with their hands.

The radio seems to lack this visual stimulation, so it’s much easier for me to get distracted. This is harmless enough when I’m listening to music, but so much more frustrating when I’m trying to catch the traffic report. You see, the highways I drive on are generally at the end of the report…unless there’s a rollover or something else going on. So I have to listen the whole time. But usually a shiny car drives by, and next thing I know, they’re onto a commercial.

On the other hand, music actually does help me concentrate more. When I’m working, I need to be listening to something I’m familiar with. It helps to occupy my brain a little bit, and tame the easily distracted elf who runs my brain. That way, the Very Serious Elf can get some work done. And if there’s a paper to be written, I bust out the classical music, and the Very VERY Serious Elf takes over. My theory is that classical music is more regimented, so there’s less chance of a surprise.

Unlike this song. Where that little background ditty in the last verse distracts me every. single. time.