You might have ADD if…

You multitask like a mothafucka.

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I’ve known I have ADHD since i was around 24. I found out by myself by searching online for solutions for my very short attention span, learning about ADD and then going to a specialist on these issues for an actual test. The discovery explained a lot of things about who I am and why I act as I do, and most importantly, knowing what I have allowed me to take the right steps to combat it.

Still, sometimes I keep surprising myself with just how much I need to trivially multitask in order to keep myself focused on my primary task. Trivially multitasking means doing small things with my hands, and feet and whatnot, in order to keep my splitting concentration from doing something even more disrupting. So I chew my fingernails, tap my feet, scratch and pick my nose, squeeze a rubber ball, chew the inside of my cheeks and lips, grind my teeth and so on. I usually do at least 3 of these things at the same time as my main task and I do them subconsciously, meaning that I only realize I’m doing them after I’ve done it for a bit.

However some times, I surprise even myself on the amount of things I need to be doing all the time, like today for example, where I was talking to my wife on the phone. Normally, I really don’t like talking on the phone. I find it boring and a few minutes is enough for me, at which point I just want to hang up and continue doing whatever I was doing before.  This time however, I seemed to be more tolerant of the act and while talking on the phone my mind started working on why this might be and then it struck me on how many things I was doing at the same time at that point. I was talking on the phone with one ear. On the other ear I was listening to music via a ear-set. On my left hand, I was playing with a coin. On my second monitor, I was watching my electric sheep screen-saver (which, if you’ve seen it, is quite enthralling by itself). And finally, I was tapping my feet.

When I mentioned this to my wife (who knows a lot about ADD from her profession), she explained that there’s no way she would be able to do all these at the same time.

I’ve now formed another half-arsed theory on why I especially hate talking on the phone. You see, most people, even without ADD, do something more than simply talk on the phone. Doodling on a notepad is a common occurrence for long talks, and I’d seen both my mother and various other people do that. It occurs to me then that a phone-call is by default a not very enthralling activity. It just doesn’t contain the concentration of most people enough, which makes them want to do something extra while on the phone. Something like doodling is enough for most. However when you combine this with ADD, being on the phone becomes almost intolerable since doodling is nowhere near enough to fill up your attention.

What do you think? Anyone else with ADHD who has similar experiences?

6 thoughts on “You might have ADD if…”

  1. I definitely don't have ADHD – I am terrible at multi-tasking and most of the time I can be completely absorbed with one single task.

    However, I think I am going through a similar later-in-life discovery about my psychological make-up. After watching the movie 'Adam' a couple of weeks ago and being surprised by how many of his behaviours seemed to fit my life, my psychologist girlfriend and I are convinced that I have Asperger's. A mild form to be sure, but Asperger's nonetheless. I have been doing the whole online data-gathering thing and it has only reinforced my thinking. I even took a 50 question online test, the result of which basically said I do have Asperger's. If it is true, it brings so many aspects of my personality and behaviour into sharp focus and helps make sense out of my life. Now, all I need to do is find a way to get tested by a specialist without costing me any money.

    I am kind of surprised that I could go 30 years without having someone even suggest the possibility of something like this….. Of course, they may have just thought I was a nerdy uber-geek.

    1. Yep, it's interesting how many of us have discovered that actually have some mild case of these "disorders" (I consider my ADHD more of a benefit than a disorder now) though the net when normal society would simply claim we're lazy or geeky or whatnot.

      1. I find my Asperger's tendencies to be beneficial in many aspects of my life – they tend to lend themselves quite nicely to being an engineer. Though it does have the side-effect of extreme social awkwardness and introversion, and that can cause some headaches in life.

  2. Well, basically I dislike talking on the phone for the same reason – plus it keeps usually my hand I hold the phone with from doing something else than something as not that useful as that. Plus phone is time-linked while IMs are not – that's why I dislike videochats and prefer IM to both, phone and them. A part of my brain is constantly thinking about something entirely different and/or watching the surroundings, listening, picking up phrases whispered on the wind or something alike. While on the phone. Surfing the net and almost bored to death when only talking and doing nothing besides it. Smoking and walking back and forth usually is an option for a short phonecall, drinking coffee with that for a medium one. I perceive, the less limitation I have in my doings the better I can do what I do. At least 2 things at once, haven't counted the most yet but you inspired me to do that. 😀

  3. When I used to work for some callcenter companies, they usually have policies against ANY form of obvious multitaking such as doodling because they think that even these things that usually do not require a high amount of concentration will deter you enough during your phone call to reduce the chance of your customer buying into whatever you are trying to sell. Another odd thing to accompany that is that they allow for very few breaks, often none for a three plus hour shift and possibly 30 min lunch if you work for more than three hours. That the work time is scheduled during evenings and that you have to sit down for three hours straight with exception of very fast toilet breaks makes me wonder what these companies are actually thinking when it comes to a person's ability to concentrate and pay attention.

    I cannot play a more complex game like WoW when I talk in the phone because the game requires too much attention that it becomes hard to pay attention to the conversation; but I can easily play something like Solitaire at the same time and I usually solve them unconsciously while talking. I could possibly perform other similar puzzle games during a phone call without it in any way being noticable during the conversation, and probably be able to solve the puzzle too, given the phone call is long enough. I do not have ADHD, but I have noticed that I do have a somewhat short attention span. Whether this is because I belong to the 80s generation and is the first generation to expect everything to be instanteous or because I am simply not very physically active (which can also negatively affect your ability to concentrate), but I do know that I cannot just do doodles when talking on the phone if I want to keep myself to concentrate on the conversation, especially if it's a boring one.

    However, I usually seem to deal with boredom in a very different way than others: this. By this, I mean this very post – argumentative writing. I can even pick fights with people out of boredom and I can usually focus much better after I've done that. I do however believe that has so much more to do with personality type though. I recall Anath using discussions and debates as a relaxation method.

  4. I'm pretty sure I have neither ADHD nor Asperger's, but I have a bunch of traits that resemble them. I multi-task like a maniac and will get bored of something within literally 30 seconds. I cannot focus on one single thing on my computer…it's just not possible. I can juggle up to maybe five tasks at a time easily.

    It is possible, with a bit of extra effort, for me to concentrate on a field though, especially if it's something that REALLY sparks my interest. If it's the latter, I'll get suckered into it and research it like a motherfucker for a couple days and then forget all about it for several weeks or months.

    I identify fairly well with Asperger's, but my Aspie-like traits come from different sources. I score rather oddly on those tests, like I'm 50-50 on one field, mostly Asperger's on another and neurotypical on another. I'm weird.

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