ADHD is a Deficit of Executive Function, Not Attention

Those who have ADHD know this is true. Attention is everywhere except where it is ‘supposed’ to be. In fact, attention is rarely focused on the required task unless there is a sense of urgency and established consequences.  You know what to do, yet you are often unable to follow through with your good intentions.

The person who has ADHD has ‘time blindness’.  If you are this person, you understand how hard it is to be on time almost anywhere for almost any reason. Your intentions are good, and then you see something or think of something, and in your mind, you are sure you have time to get it done before you have to leave. Once again, you are rushing to meet a starting time you have already missed. Once again, you are embarrassed when you are late to an appointment, or a meeting, or work. No matter  how early you start, somehow you are almost always late.

‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is something you understand, too. You may have things out instead of put away in your home or office, because you know if you put them away, you’ll forget about them. If you are a student with a paper or project due 2 months away, it disappears into thin air until the deadline is too close to ignore. You mean to work on it every day, but without small goals, and frequent reminders, it slips right out of your mind.

Your attention is everywhere, and it is so hard to pay attention and focus when someone is talking to you. You notice this. The people who want your attention notice it, too. It may be causing problems in a relationship. Maybe you fidget, or doodle, or make notes, or think about something else that passes through your mind. You don’t mean to not pay attention.

You are very sensitive to how angry and critical and disapproving people seem to be when you don’t follow through. It’s not that you wanted to let people down. It just happened. Then, it happened again, and again, and again.

You’re not a bad person. You know what to do. You simply have a brain that has difficulty taking you from knowing what to do, to taking the necessary action to accomplish your intended goal in the way you want to do it. You may feel very bad about yourself. You may feel like a failure when you don’t follow through, or meet expectations, or pay attention, or manage your life in the way you think you should.

It’s okay. You are okay. There are things you can do, steps you can take, to begin to follow through on what you want to do, wish to do, and intend to do.