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Just something I've been thinking about for a while.

How to Know if you have ADHD

SciShow Psych

I am very lucky to have found myself (and gotten myself) in a situation that is well suited to the quirks of my personality. But I still find myself sometimes unintentionally hurting people, annoying people, or letting people down even though I often know the exact mistake I am making.

I'm not saying that means I have ADHD, I just want to continue to understand the mistakes I make, that I am prone to making them, and develop habits to stop myself. This channel: is full of tips I find useful, and there are a number of habits I've developed on my own.

Finally, here's a thing I didn't say in the video. I've struggled with worrying that if I get diagnosed, I will blame the disorder instead of myself and let that excuse my behavior. I know that's dumb, because if I'm being impaired by something, I should know and take the steps to reduce that impairment. But part of me always wants to believe that I'm strong and smart enough to handle any curve ball I get thrown without letting myself or other people down.

I think that might be a pretty destructive way to look at it, which is why I'm glad I've allowed myself to get support from friends, family, and professionals over the years.

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Good morning, John.
So you might remember that when I was a little kid, I was diagnosed with a learning disability, a sensory dysfunction. Basically, sensory disorders are when you either have a hard time dealing with the information you have coming into you, or you have too much information, or you're not getting enough information. And when I say information here, I'm talking about stuff coming into your senses, not stuff you're learning, but just everything coming at you all the time.

If I had been born ten years later, I probably would have been additionally or alternately diagnosed with ADHD. I can't say for sure, of course, but when I was seven years old, which is the average age for an ADHD diagnosis, attention deficit disorders just weren't being diagnosed or discussed as much. I definitely had symptoms that don't fit into the attention deficit box, but are sometimes overlapping conditions, like mild dyslexia and motor control problems. On the other hand, I definitely do have some attention issues. Schedules can be really frustrating for me; I have a hard time being in the place where I'm supposed to be at the right time, everyone who works with me can tell you that. I'm sorry, everyone. When I am able to focus on things, which is actually pretty frequently, I get really focused, and when I am forced to disengage from that focus, I get irrationally angry. I'm always searching for new things to create, you might have also noticed that. And I wear holes really fast in my socks because my toes never stop moving-- they're going right now.

I've gotten pretty good at managing these things, with the help of friends, and family, and tutors and teachers and thank god, an assistant now. How did I ever function without help? But I still often hurt people's feelings, or annoy them by going somewhere else in my head when people that I care about are talking to me. As I have previously said, I am often late for stuff, which makes people think that I don't care about them. And sometimes I have very difficult-to-control flashes of rage in grocery lines.

But here's a general thing about psychological disorders, which we're discussing now on our new channel, SciShow Psych, by the way. Disorders are only classified as disorders when they're ongoing, frustrating impairments. And I, especially now, am less impaired by the different way that my brain maybe works. That's because of great support from family and from teachers, and because I've gotten myself into situations where the different way that my brain works has actually made me an advantage, rather than a hindrance.

And it's also because of economics. My parents took me to a handwriting therapist, who was like, "Can you get this kid a computer? Because he needs to learn how to type." This person is a professional person who makes people write better and they were like "Get this child a computer." And the fact that getting a computer was an option for my family back in like, the 80s, and that then I had this tool in my home that none of my other classmates had, that allowed me to develop a skill set that none of my classmates had. All those things are huge.

There's kind of two parts to minimizing the negative effects of your brain not working normal: changing the environment to suit the brain, and then there's improving the functionality of the brain itself, through things like medication, or mindfulness, or exercise. Because of the advantages I've had, I've been pretty successful at doing that first thing. Which means I kinda maybe didn't ever have a hard enough time to look into the second thing.

So, do I have ADHD? Maybe. But I am definitely dedicated to doing my best to understand my own shortcomings, and to develop techniques and habits to deal with them. And I've learned some of those habits by living inside of my own body, but I've learned others from people who have ADHD, and are talking openly and honestly about it, and also from people who work with people with attention disorders.

I think by now I've gotten through the hardest parts of living in my brain, you know? Like, figuring out how to cope for all the ways in which my mind isn't perfect for the situations it finds itself in. I am proud of that; I think that it took a lot of hard work, but it also took a lot of help. Help that I got in spades because of my economic advantages, because I was diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder early on and I had a lot of great tutors. In short, I've been very lucky, and I've had lots of help.

If you think that you might have ADHD, I have a video to recommend for you: it's very good. It was the thing that inspired me to make this. Figuring out how to live in your own mind and your own body is the task of your life. And there's no reason to think that you have to take that on alone.

John, I'll see you on Tuesday.