Learning to maintain balance in group conversations is an everyday challenge for a person with ADHD.
by Rebeka Covell
Those of us with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often have trouble with group conversations.
It’s frustrating when you’re constantly worrying if you’re talking too much, or too loud, or the conversation shifted five minutes ago and you haven’t caught up yet. All of these things have happened to me at one time or another and I understand the stress it causes within the group.
I have no problem talking for hours, as long as it’s one-on-one, and not in a big group of people. In a group, I tend to do one of two things.
Option 1: I end up dominating the conversation, talking loud, too fast, and never letting anyone get a word in edgewise. I somehow end up in the middle of the circle, and sure, I’m entertaining, but I’m not applying the first skill kids learn in school: SHARING!
And soon enough, if you don’t learn to take turns, and share the spotlight, no one wants to be your friend. It takes an outspoken person to be my friend. I need friends that say “just shut up for a second!”
Otherwise, there’s sure to be some unintentional hurt feelings.
Option 2: I try not to say too much, I end up saying nothing, I get bored, I get lost, I stand there looking dumb.
If the conversation isn’t interesting to me, or it’s confusing, my eyes glaze over and I start thinking about something completely unrelated. All I really want to do is leave but I can’t be rude. So I sit, feeling tortured through a conversation I am not contributing to one bit.
Sometimes, the discussion is so enthralling that my mind goes crazy, and I have to think for a few minutes to gather my thoughts. By the time my mouth forms the carefully chosen words the conversation has shifted, and I appear to be blurting out a completely random thought. I get some weird looks, but if only people could rewind the conversation five minutes, and insert my comment it would all make sense.
As someone with ADHD, learning to balance conversation in a group of people is an everyday challenge. One of the reasons I hate group projects in school is that they’re simply too overwhelming for me.