Reply To: Difference btwn selfish and ADHD

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So, I don’t think it’s a matter of being “selfish.” It may appear selfish and it’s obviously frustrating when what needs to be done isn’t getting done, but it’s unlikely that’s it’s exclusively a boy just not wanting to clean his room just because. Based on what little information you’ve given, it sounds a lot like ADHD.

I don’t process what I hear very well and I’m usually very distracted, so someone can be talking to me and I’ll realize about 30 seconds in that I’ve heard and processed 0% of what they’ve told me, and that’s really embarrassing, so sometimes I’ll just agree and move on, not realizing what I’ve agreed to. Additionally, I can and often do forget to do things people have asked me to do, even with reminders, because, well, out of sight, out of mind. Try a note on the door, inside and out, so when he leaves his room for a snack or a bathroom break, he gets reminders on his own.

As for video games… boy oh boy! Imagine you had a machine in front of you that gave you a reward every few minutes or so. Just because. And if you do more, like push buttons or pull levers, you get even more rewards! You can work with friends to not only hang out, but also get more points. You get to see your points go up, you get to see your friends’ points go up, you get to see progress happening immediately all the time. That’s video games! Now, imagine studying. The only thing you get as a reward is intangible, unseeable, and for something that barely exists because it’s not happening yet. It’s sooooo much easier to get stimulation from a video game than studying or cleaning your room or making dinner or taking showers. If you have ADHD, your brain doesn’t respond to anything less than a LOT of stimulation.

If you’re doing a list of things and there are three things: do laundry, clean the kitchen, and pet a dog, which one are you going to do the most of? What if the kitchen is HORRIBLY dirty and messy? Would you rather start something you know will take a long time and will be boring and messy or just… stick with the tiny little thing that you know is kind of cool and, well, it’s on the list, right? A person with ADHD has a brain that needs more stimulation than your average person to notice things, let alone be motivated to do them. The messier the kitchen, the harder it is to clean, even when you know that means it’s more important. It’s just so much and it’s so much easier to leave it for another day and work around it. Getting started is way harder than finishing, and once you stop for a break you have to work yourself back into being motivated to start all over again. Petting a dog is much more motivating.

If he’s just been diagnosed, try a) learning about ADHD (there’s a TON of great resources out there, from YouTube to books to this website), b) talking to him about ADHD and what it means (his brain’s different) and what it doesn’t mean (it’s an excuse to not do stuff), and c) talking to a doctor about medication options. ADHD can be mitigated by medication for nearly all people with ADHD. Maybe that’ll help.