Some things I wish I’d been told about when I got diagnosed : ADHD

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Okay, so I have ADHD and here are some things I wish someone told me about when I was diagnosed. First of all, some general statistics/facts, followed by corroborating disorders, followed by some in-depth Sensory Processing Disorder stuff!

Some statistics:

-80% of adults w/ ADHD have at least 1 other psychiatric disorder

-3x as likely to develop depression

-25% also have anxiety

-3-5X as likely to develop a learning disability

Did you know, ADHD looks different in males and females. Women often get diagnosed in their early 20’s, and boys often get diagnosed early in grade school. ADHD in girls can look less like “hyperactivity” and more like excessive talking, daydreaming, poor time management, and poor emotional regulation.

Fun things that go along w/ ADHD / corroborating disorders:

  • Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria: extreme emotional sensitivity to PERCEIVED rejection/criticism/teasing. It’s specific to ADHD, it’s very very quick, and very severe to the point of suicidal ideation. This can make some “people pleasers” and others give up on trying all together.

  • Executive Dysfunction: this is a big one, kind of an umbrella term of all the things people with ADHD struggle with, which are (technically speaking): impulse control, emotional control, flexible thinking, working memory, self-monitoring, planning and prioritizing, task initiation, organization.

  • This is the difference between neurotypicals and people w/ Executive Dysfunction:

    • (Just being lazy): I don’t want to do the Thing right now, i’m just going to relax instead.

    • (Executive dysfunction): Oh my god, we need to do the Thing. We have needed to do the Thing for a long time and now its really really time to do the Thing, so please god just get up and do the Thing. Just get up. Start with getting up. Oh my god get up get up get up get up please AHHHHHHHHHHHHH (4 hours go by, has not done the Thing). Which ties into time blindness….

  • Time blindness: Not having a sense of time when planning for an assignment that’s 2 weeks away, it may still feel like it’s two weeks away even though it’s now due tomorrow. Also losing hours at a time in the blink of an eye. Which ties into hyperfocus!!

  • Hyperfocus: a cool/concerning ADHD thing where you are so intensely focused on something you unknowingly spend 4 hours on it, forgetting to eat or go to the bathroom. So focused you may not hear or see what’s going on around you. It’s great, except for when you hyperfocus on the WRONG thing and you just lost your whole night or day to a task that is not high priority/time sensitive.

  • Auditory Processing Disorder: You just heard sounds that were words coming from someone’s mouth, and then a few seconds later you realise someone was talking to you, so you now try to remember and then decipher the meaning of those sounds, and then you finally actually hear them (maybe). It’s like a lag on a computer or a glitch in your brain. My most often said phrases to my partner are, “what?” and “what are the words you just said”. Also I can’t follow a movie or tv show without subtitles.

Sensory Processing Disorder:

This one is huge for me, you might know it more commonly associated with people w/ Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I’m going to break each sense down with examples. I cherry picked the ones that applied to me more, so feel free to look more into it!

  • Hypersensitivity/hyposensitivity to Touch (Tactile):

    • Sometimes normal sensations like wind, showering, or seams on clothing HURT your skin. It feels like tiny needles and your skin feels like a raw sunburn. Might only wear soft, non restrictive clothing, might wear socks super loose or super tight, may not like socks all together. May have a small rotation of clothing items you feel comfortable in. May be distressed by dirty hands. May only like hot or cold foods.

    • On the under-responsive side, you might crave touch and sensation of certain textures or vibrations.

  • Hypersensitivity/hyposensitivity to Movement (Vestibular):

    • For me it’s under-responsiveness to movement, and you may be fidgety, constantly moving, love intense stimulation like spinning or swinging. May often rock body/shake leg or do repetitive movements as a form of self stimulation.

    • May have poor muscle tone/coordination: Floppy-ish. Head feels heavy and hard to hold up. Frequently slumping, leaning, leaning head on hand/arm while working. Overcompensates by gripping things too hard (often breaking pencil leans or entire pencils or objects). Low body awareness: bumps into things or trips often, just kinda clumsy in general

  • Hypersensitivity/hyposensitivity to Proprioceptive Input: **(**input from body/muscles/joints, pressure, movement)

    • Sensory seeking behaviors: loves deep pressure, weighted blankets, bear hugs. May roughhouse too much, could jump on a trampoline for hours, grinding teeth, loves hanging from things, chews on stuff/oral fixation.

    • Difficulty with “grading of movement”: Misjudgement of weight of something like a cup, and often spilling it when picking up or drinking, breaks things often, hand writing is freaking terrible, rips paper when erasing, breaks stuff on accident often.

  • Hypersensitivity/hyposensitivity to Auditory Input:

    • Hears sounds others may not notice like humming of lights, outlets, clocks. Bothered by environmental noise. May dislike someone based on the sound of their voice.

    • Hyposensitivity to sounds: Making noise just to make noise, humming, may be oblivious to some sounds, talks through things out loud, “what?”, no inside voice.

  • Hypersensitivity to Oral Input:

    • Extremely picky eater, limited repertoire of foods, has trouble with certain textures, issues with toothpaste or mouthwash, and may only eat hot/cold foods.

  • Hypersensitive to Smells (Olfactory):

    • Notice smells others don’t, bothered by perfume, cooking smells, the way some peoples houses/cars smell.

  • Hypersensitivity/hyposensitivity to Visual Input:

    • Hypersensitivity: Get headaches from lights, prefer it to be very dim or very bright, headaches from TV, easily distracted by movement/decoration/windows or anything visually going on in the room, may avoid eye contact.

    • Hyposensitivity: loses place while reading or copying from a book/whiteboard, double vision when reading, writes uphill/downhill on a slant.

  • Emotional/Social/Self-Regulation:

    • Impulsive, easily frustrated, difficulty accepting changes in routine, quick changing moods, outbursts or tantrums.

    • Internal regulation: (big one for me) Becoming too hot/cold super fast compared to others in the same environment, difficulty maintaining body temp and cooling down or heating up. Difficulty regulating appetite (always hungry/not hungry). Hyper to lethargic very quickly.

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