My Silver Lining Playbook for All Those ADHD Moments
Why not see ADHD traits like fidgeting and starting into space as gifts instead of burdens? With a little creative thinking, you can!
We all have ADHD moments when we do something particularly typical of someone with our condition. I’ve been having them a lot lately. So has my son, which makes me think it’s the phases of the moon, something we ate, the confluence of Venus and Mars, or whatever. ADHD is running strong in our house right now. I keep putting in laundry and not turning on the machine. I lose my phone. I lose my keys. My son’s reading lessons look like this: Read one word (wrong), stare into space.
It doesn’t seem to be going away, so I’m making the best of it. I’m trying to turn all those ADHD traits into positives. It’s the only way I’ll get through this.
Losing the keys/phone/shoes/item of clothing: I didn’t lose the “it.” We don’t lose things. Instead, I am fostering a Zen-like philosophy of non-possession. This is teaching me that things don’t matter, and I need to let go of their importance. Alternately, I’m providing another excuse for a Target trip (as if I needed one).
Forgetting to do a vital task, like not turning on the washer: These things happen, man. This is a chance to mellow out and remember that housework doesn’t matter as much as playing with the kids. It’s a chance to step back from the housework and evaluate my attitude toward it-for example, I’m putting too much emphasis on it. This is actually a gift.
Not hearing people when they talk: Selective hearing is one of the most annoying traits someone with attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD or ADD) can exhibit to neurotypicals. They talk and talk and talk at you, then they realize you’ve been zoned out in a book or watching TV for the last five minutes. Think of this as a chance to practice your apology, and give the other person a chance to say what she was saying, but better.
Zoning out on Facebook: Armageddon could be happening around you, and you’d still be reading status updates. This isn’t a bad thing. It keeps you connected to people, and keeps you up on pop culture. These things are both important, but perhaps not as important as your child, so go save him from certain death.
Daydreaming: We love to daydream. It zones us out of meetings and the other boring moments of modern-day life. This is not a negative. Instead, while the people around you blather on about TPS reports, you’re exercising your imagination. You’re stretching your brain. Just try not to get called on for input.
Staring off into nowhere: This is my son’s favorite. You’ll be talking to him, and suddenly, his eyes are focused on the middle distance and his face goes slack. He isn’t daydreaming. He’s just checked out. It’s annoying as hell when we’re reading. But instead, let’s see the checking out as recharging. He’s gathering energy to do a difficult task, like put on his shoes or read the word “like.”
Not listening to directions: I tell my son not to jump on the bed eight times a day. And he jumps on the bed nine times a day. He can’t listen to basic directions at times. That’s OK. He’s a free spirit! He can’t be chained down! Rather than yell, I need to gently redirect again and again and again.
Need for constant motion: My son bounces on the couch, tries to climb the curtains, swings on the towel bars, and runs. I twitch my legs and tap my toes. This can be super annoying. But, hey, we’re burning calories. We’re keeping our muscles healthy. We need to do these things to be happy, healthy human beings. The tics relieve tension and provide a metric for others to gauge your stress level. My son’s running and jumping helps release energy, which lets him focus on more important tasks later.
See? All these ADHD symptoms can be turned into positives if you let them. You just have to change your thinking. It’s hard, but I’m going to try it. The bouncing might kill me, though.
Updated on July 8, 2021