Reply To: Living with ADHD and Dyslexia

Home Welcome to the ADDitude Forums For Adults Living with ADHD and Dyslexia Reply To: Living with ADHD and Dyslexia


@whisperingwings. Yes, I often arrive at the solution or answer before others. I still do blurt out, although I’ve gotten better at this. What I’ve also learned too, is that my solution or answer is not always right either. If the urge is too overwhelming, I try and phrase it in away the reduces negative feelings such as, “Excuse me for the interruption. May I suggest a quick resolution to fix the phone?” This way, I don’t come across as being a pushy know it all. And if I don’t know all the steps to resolve, at least phrasing it this way gets others to provide their input too making them feel like their helping.

I too find it hard to socialize unless the topics are of interest to me. Generally, I’m exhausted (still working on sleeping issues), and when we do visit friends, I’m often passive, but do make an effort at least to move from group to group/conversation to conversation to appear sociable, pass the time, and mostly, in hopes to engage in conversation in something interesting. Celebrity gossip, nightly news, “reality tv”, and most popular stuff, will bore me. If I’m in the right mood, I’ll go into a tirade and disspell the myths of the crap that they are discussing. If they are good friends, they often appreciate the alternative point of view or tell me to shut up with the conspiracy stuff and we laugh! If these are new people, I have to try VERY HARD to bite my tongue.

Two events stick out in my mind where I really bit my tongue hard, and, where I couldn’t hold it in. I was visiting the head office in a different city and was out with colleagues at a bar and the topic turned to the troops in Afghanistan. It was early in the evening, and we just ordered drinks so this wasn’t the liquor talking. Being a new group of colleagues I just met and that they were passionate about this topic, I kept to myself and listened. However, when one guy said “these people don’t appreciate what we’re doing for them, why do they hate us?”, I lost it, but in a assertive way that commanded attention. Essentially, I explained they don’t hate us, they are denied similar opportunities to live a good life, and out of frustration, anyone or anything that makes them feel like they belong and can achieve those dreams, they will listen too. Another time, I met my boss and his wife for dinner. As we were talking she quickly discovered I was not local and asked if I was from Minnesota, and I said I was Canadian. That turned on her switch to say that Canada had let in all the terrorists for 9/11, etc. My blood was boiling at the misinformation she was saying. I could see my boss was uncomfortable as well, which somehow managed to keep me from going off. Somehow, I managed to get in a word about the only documented terrorist from Canada was in 1999 and he was caught at the border and jailed. This relieved my pressure, however, the one sided conversation continued and I tuned out.

I’m often in my own world, and constantly reminded of it. I have explained to my wife I generally don’t hear other conversations if I’m focused, I just hear background conversation. eg: If I’m checking on a text message and my little son asks for a drink, I won’t hear what he asked for, just that there was talk. This frustrates her because “I’m not paying attention” to our son. This is technically true, however, it’s not out of selfishness or malice. This is the part neurotypicals have a hard time grasping. Our actions are construed as negative, as if we are intentionally out to hurt others. It was only a few years ago did I realize that my wife, and others see me in a negative way because it’s the undesirable aspects of ADD they are seeing, and that they don’t know, as I had just realized, that the ADD traits are not personality traits, but, behavioural traits influenced by ADD. What makes it even more difficult to comprehend, is that there are times I can hear my son clear as day, from across the busy grocery store, which contradicts the many times I can’t hear him next to me. It’s difficult to reconcile these two extremes, for ourselves, and others. For the longest time, I would say “I don’t know” which was true because I didn’t know I had it, and couldn’t explain it. My wife is partially convinced of my diagnosis, still very skeptical, and is unwilling to listen to explanations when’s she’s frustrated in the moment when I forgot again what she just said. Bit, by bit, I’m making progress on helping her to understand, and find ways to work with it. As I mentioned earlier, I’m bringing her to my ADD coaching appointment to get a 3rd party neurotypical to explain it in a way I can’t or needs that other voice to convince her.

Our parents have expectations of us, based on their experiences and influences. Given the times they grew up, or where they grew up, or who they grew up with, really sets in place, the lens or filters on how they interact in the world. As they became adults and had us, they projected onto us their expectations, both consciously and unconsciously. Only when they see that we are deviating from their expectations, is when the problems set in. I always heard from mine, “You should do this or be like that”. eg: “Why can’t you listen to the music on the radio instead of that heavy metal stuff?” or “Why can’t you dress nice instead of always wearing black clothes?” or “Why can’t you play with your toys nicely instead of always taking them apart?” These are continual little hints that I am not like others, and it builds up a wall. I did not have any such threats of being thrown out, and while I was not easy to get along with, I guess by not getting into drugs, alcohol, gangs, or jail, they felt I was doing ok. It is those “coulda, shoulda, woulda’s” to this day, I still cannot stand I instantly “tune out” or the odd time, lash out, when my parents and I talk. It’s a hard thing to overcome, I don’t hate my parents, I’ve learned to accept they did what they could and don’t know otherwise.

I think what helped me turn a corner is when I realized how my actions were being received or perceived by others, I immediately talked to my wife. It was when I learned what “listening” really meant, that I talked to her about this. Listening is not simply the act of hearing with our ears, it also means we are listening with our heads (information storage), and our hearts (empathy). I talked to her what I had learned in the “7 habits course of successful people” about listening and a light bulb went off in both our heads. She has always said I don’t listen, and she correctly understood that I was busy forming a response in my head and sometimes blurting it out before she finished. It was this act of reacting that caused my brain to go into overdrive, unable to physically hear, less likely to store information, and nearly impossible to empathise with her. I too hated it when people didn’t listen to me and interrupted me, and here I was doing it to her without realizing it! No wonder she was feeling frustrated, and felt I was selfish. I started to understand how she was seeing me. My thoughts wanted to get out as quickly as possible, hence the blurting, and in the process, I was talking over her and others, and making them feel bad, and forming a negative perception of me. Because I despise not being heard just like her, I was able to actually empathise and feel what she was feeling. Most importantly, I apologized, and I acknowledged how she felt. While her initial reaction was “isn’t listening obvious? It’s just common sense!”, I explained to her that “it is not common sense to me as I am just learning about it and realizing how I’ve been making you feel.” She saw that I was genuine in my new discovery of listening and sincere apology for making her feel that way.

It’s not that you shouldn’t try to help others understand, we just might need to find a different way, or realize that person is not worth the effort. The challenge is the different brain characteristics, spectrum of behaviours, contradictory behaviours, that make it difficult for people to accept and understand, neurotypical and ADDers alike. By asking others how they feel when we blurt out, shut down, etc, we can then acknowledge how they feel, and learn how to deal with it better.

Being upset at others because they don’t get you is frustrating. Use that creative brain to be curious about why they aren’t getting it. Somehow, Einstein was able to get his theory of relativity published, quite a complex concept, with which we are all the better for today. He didn’t give up that others didn’t get it. He found a way to explain space-time and gravity in a way that most people can understand, and we can now actually see or measure the effects of. Use the response you get as a tool for feedback, the more you do it, the less agitating these responses become and the better you’re able to handle these situations.