So you have Attention Deficit Disorder? Let's take a look at what it is. It's neuro-biological and like the book says, you're not lazy, crazy, or stupid. It's hereditary, so a lot of adults are just discovering they have ADD soon after their children's diagnosis is made. The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) of the American Psychiatric Association now has a definition for adult ADD. They begin by stating that the three criteria for diagnosis must have been in existence since childhood or age 7 and must have caused constant and debilitating problems for that individual since that age. That's the first good piece of information you can take from your diagnosis to help you move forward. You are strong and you have endurance. Buried under all those years of struggle, are important experiences and much wisdom. You've made it this far, and now you're ready to use what you've learned to go forward, creating new behaviors that will make the day to day challenges of life less of a struggle and more enjoyable.
The three behavioral criteria for attention deficit disorder are: 1) inattention or distractibility, 2) impulsivity and 3) hyperactivity, or as so often displayed in adults, restlessness. Let's take a look at all three.
Adults who have the inability to regulate attention or concentration while performing a task, manifest this in many ways. You may be distracted by external noises such as conversation, music, or the activities of others, or you may find that your own internal thoughts are the primary source of distraction. It could be a combination of both internal and external distractions that limit your concentration. Not all individuals are distracted by noise and you may find that music in the background enables you to concentrate better on what you are reading.
The results of being distracted can be as varied as the distractions themselves. You may get details confused, you may forget appointments, you may need to re-read things several times, or ask to have things repeated. You may start out very organized, but in a very short time be disorganized and unable to finish what it was you started, because you lost track of time. You may jump from one project to the next without completing any of them. You may take several folders out of the file cabinet and never use or put back any of them, or you may take a half a dozen sweaters out of the drawer, only to run out of the house sleeveless. You may take all day to write one simple letter to Aunt Millie at Christmas and find it under a pile of papers next Easter; or worse yet, you mail it, along with your purse and all your credit cards.
Record what distractions and resulting behaviors annoy you most. Think about which two, you'll feel most pleased resolving first, and put a star by them. Example: I get up early to go running every morning and get so distracted, that I never make it out the door.
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