learning disorder

ADHD Simulation – Listening With Distractions

A while back I shared the PBS site that simulates the challenge of reading as an ADHDer.  If you haven’t given it a whirl, I recommend you do.  The experience might give you some insight into why I have a million books (and love them all quite dearly, mind you), but haven’t been able to finish hardly any of them.

Below is the link to another ADHD simulation, again – courtesy of PBS.  This one tests your ability to focus on auditory cues while burdened with distractions.  Honestly, my Adderall should be working (unless it’s sugar pills again…which, you know, it could be) and I gave it a solid effort. After making it through the first two instructions without losing focus, I was just about to pat myself on the back…then I lost all hope.

Granted, it’s probably like a double-whammy, actually having ADHD and then partaking in a simulator that makes you feel like you have ADHD, so my chances of actually making it through were probably slim anyway.

The thing is, people with ADD / ADHD are usually hypersensitive to extraneous noises (and actually most extraneous factors in general), so we literally hear more than most people.  Yeah, I know, here I am over here complaining about having super powers…  I mean, super hearing can be a good thing, but it can also be super distracting.

When I can, I use a white noise machine or headphones to help drown out distracting noises.  Some people prefer earplugs, but I have small ears and it’s hard to find a pair that fits.  Also, I think they’re kinda gross and they usually hurt me after a while.

This is one of those symptoms that can be alleviated in the workplace by a simple accommodation like providing the employee a small office instead of a cube or giving them the ability to telecommute.  In school, some students are given their own quiet room to take their tests in or they’re allowed to go to the library during individual study time.

There are solutions out there.  It’s just a matter of figuring out what works for you.  Which, I’ll admit, can be quite daunting.  But!  Don’t give up, guys.  Remember that when you ARE in an environment that suits your brain style, you tend to excel (aka kick butt).  Be patient and creative…and you’ll get there.

If you can listen and pay attention just fine?  Well, good for you…must be nice.  Just kidding (mostly)!  Make sure your volume’s turned up (put your headphones on for the best experience) and click below to get an idea what it’s like to have a party in your head while trying to pay attention.

ADHD listening experience

ADHD Simulation – Reading with Distractions

I’ve been “gifted” all my life.  I’ve also been overcompensating for my learning issues for as long as I can remember.  The two don’t seem to go together, do they?  But, for many, they do.

It’s really hard being in gifted classes with the smartest people in school, knowing that you’re smart, but somehow feeling that you just don’t belong.  I would get stupidly excited for summer reading books.  I really, really, really wanted to learn.  I have this unbelievable thirst for knowledge.  It sounds so lame, but it’s really the truth.  The problem is, I could never quench it.  My brain wouldn’t allow me to actually focus or absorb much at all.

I would dive into those summer reading books with such enthusiasm…but ask me how many I actually finished.  Maybe five…and that’s being generous.

Then, in college, I realized how slowly I actually read.  I was studying for a psychology test and  there was this passage (I don’t remember the numbers), “Remedial readers trail in at … words a minute.”  I timed myself and I was so much slower than the remedial reader.  There was a part of me, in that moment, that realized that I might actually be screwed (aka there might actually be an underlying issue).

Years later, I stumbled upon a video on PBS that did a pretty accurate job of simulating what happens in an ADD / ADHD brain when it tries to read.  I shared it with a few friends and they were shocked.  It’s all I’ve ever known, so it was comforting, instead of shocking, to know that other people were going through it, too.  Not that I want anyone else to have to struggle just because I do, but there’s comfort in knowing you’re not alone.

Anyway, I’ve looked for the video for years since.  I’m not 100% convinced that this is the original video I found, but it definitely delivers the same effect.  Feel free to give it a whirl…it stresses me out just to look at it.  It looks too much like the way the inside of my brain feels.

ADHD Reading Experience