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Add This to the Surprising Signs of ADD in Adults: A Dirty Wooden Spoon

The signs of my adult ADD were hiding out in the open. Here’s how my kitchen mishaps led to a late ADHD diagnosis, which changed my life for the better. Perhaps my story will lead to your own “wooden spoon” epiphany.

Surprising Signs of ADD in Adults: My Story

Years ago, before I was formally diagnosed with ADHD, I assumed I was incompetent, lazy, immature, and worse. Then, one day, I had a revelation.

My epiphany came the day I hosted a friend for dinner. That morning, I roasted a whole chicken. Proud of that achievement, but exhausted from it, I took shortcuts with the rest of the meal: I opened a can of soup and a can of peas to round it off. I wasn’t proud of that, but I couldn’t do better.

My guest, Claire, was a pleasant woman and a bit chatty. She thanked me for the “home-cooked” spread. As I got up to clear the table, she followed me into the kitchen, distracting me with her stories.

I was trying to clean up the mountain of pots, pans, and dishes, all while listening to Claire’s chatter. I bantered with her to keep up the dialogue, but I was puzzled: Why was I holding a food-splattered wooden spoon in my hand, instead of cleaning up the mess?

I had no clue how to clean the spoon while also talking with Claire! My brain didn’t allow me to do both at the same time.

[Could You Have ADHD? Take This Symptom Test for Adults]

That’s when it dawned on me that my kitchen issues were not about being tired from taking care of children. Or not needing to fuss because my husband wasn’t usually home by dinnertime. I could not handle all the juggling, timing, and decision-making that others take for granted in order to put a meal on the table. The distractions were overwhelming. All these years I’d fooled myself, thinking I was a horrible cook. But the truth was now out in the open.

Late ADHD Diagnosis: Everything Makes Sense Now

My epiphany struck more than 25 years ago, but I see it as if it were yesterday. Today, I know that my issues with cooking and housekeeping emanate from executive dysfunction — problems getting from step one to step two, and putting together all the pieces that allow us to get things done. Poor executive functioning leads to poor planning, organizing, and attention — in practically every facet of life.

Not long after the dinner incident, I became aware of another quirk that made me wonder, “What is wrong with me?” I realized why I hated talking on the phone. It wasn’t that I had other things to do, or that I got bored easily. It’s because I get easily distracted.

I cannot not filter out sounds I don’t want to hear. I hear the hum from the refrigerator a room away and become derailed. If there is static on the line, I am lost. I even set up an appointment with an audiologist, who said my hearing was fine.

[Click to Read: “My ADHD Diagnosis Connected the Dots in My Life.”]

Despite these observations, my late ADHD diagnosis came only after my own daughter was diagnosed, and I began devouring books on how to manage childhood ADHD.

Diagnosed with Adult ADD: A Better Life

Discovering you have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) is a personal (and sometimes wild) journey. Each of us has our own story about how we got to our ADHD diagnosis, whether at 7 or 57. If you are newly diagnosed, you’ll slowly learn why things have been so hard for you. If you’re not new to ADHD, and are well aware of your challenges, allow yourself forgiveness.

My wooden spoon led me to a diagnosis that changed the rest of my life for the better. Perhaps this article will be your wooden spoon.

Signs of ADD in Adults: Next Steps


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Updated on July 27, 2020

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  1. Interesting! I have never been fond of cooking, although I’m not a bad cook. Now I realize why; I dislike tasks with multiple steps, and since I also have dyscalculia, I have a hard time converting measurements or adjusting recipes for different servings. And I usually take more time to follow each step properly, which throws off preparation estimates. I also recently realized I don’t like having to hover over pots, and when the instructions call for items to be flipped while baking, I usually see if I can cheat and just… not do that.
    The added pressures of trying to make healthy and economical dishes adds to my frustration.
    I’m better at it now because I’ve adjusted and have some standard meals I enjoy, but it’s a challenge when I’m making a meal with family or friends who… well, just do it differently than I do.

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