4 Challenges with Adult ADD/ADHD
I have found more and more clients seeking therapy services for issues around Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (“ADD”). Many clients find that they are struggling with difficulties in their career, school, and/or relationships due to underlying issues from ADD and seek out a therapist to help them find strategies.
It is important to note that strategies for people with ADD do not always look the same as those who don’t have ADD. This is most apparent in time management. Many clients with ADD try time management techniques for the general public and then feel frustrated and self critical when the techniques don’t work. However, this is usually not their fault but rather that the appropriate technique was not given.
At times, clients may not even realize how their ADD can be attributing to anxiety, depression, communication difficulties, or disappointment from unrealistic expectations. Once a therapist, who is skilled in working with ADD, can explain why certain issues occur and then how best to address those issues, clients often feel relief and hope.
It is important to recognize that ADD is a result of how the brain processes information with the executive functioning. It’s not about intelligence or effort but rather how the executive functioning is different in the processing. The comparison I often to give is with dyslexia. People with dyslexia see letters and words differently but it doesn’t reflect their IQ or motivation. It is the same with ADD.
Below are four challenges with ADD and how life coaching can help.
- Time Blindness. This is a term used to help explain how people with ADD often perceive time differently than those without ADD. ADD clients can feel that they have more time to complete tasks or misjudge how long a task will take. This often results in running behind schedule and appearing as if they didn’t plan properly, which can then cause frustration in relationships and work environments. I provide specific interventions to work with time blindness and help clients mange their time to get tasks completed successfully and on time.
- Multiple Step Instructions. Often when giving instructions, a person can list off two to three steps to complete the task. These steps can be simple and for the person without ADD, it seems very reasonable. For example, a task to clean out the garage could look like: “Move all the gardening tools to the shed, organize the storage boxes to go on the shelf, and then put the bikes on the back wall”. Most of us would be able to take in all three steps in one take. However, the person with ADD will still be processing the first step while the other person is already finished with step three. This can then appear as if the person with ADD isn’t listening and the other person feeling frustrated. As a therapist, I provide interventions to help clients communicate the best way for them to receive instructions and set them up for success.
- Hyper focus. It may seem contrary that people with ADD would get hyper focus when the name suggest the opposite in that they are often distracted. The reality is that the ADD person experiences both. At times, an ADD person will become very focused on a task and several hours can pass before they even notice and then fall behind on other tasks. They can often become hyper focus on the details and lose sight of the bigger objective. I help ADD clients learn how to refocus and find balance to generate successful outcomes.
- On and Off Task. Clients with ADD have a difficult time getting on and off task. This is even more problematic in our current environment where there are constant alerts, emails, texts, etc. Each of these interruptions can transport a client onto a new task and then the previous task gets left behind and neglected. It’s not that they don’t care about the previous task but the executive functioning focuses on the new task and puts the old task out of mind. This can be frustrating in prioritizing and time management. I provide interventions to help clients incorporate transition time into their routine and how to best not to leave previous tasks behind.
In order for therapy to be successful with a client who has ADD, it is important to work with a therapist who has experience and training around ADD as it requires specialized interventions. I have worked several years with clients with ADD and have built up a tool box of interventions that have helped clients be successful in work, relationships, and life.