Ever imagine what it’s like to be a human pinball machine? Why on earth would you! That’s kind of what my brain on ADHD feels like. Ideas pinging, color bursts, moving fast, what’s that sound? Exciting news, missing the mark, ping. Hands tapping, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, neck muscles tensed, adrenaline rush, look at those pretty lights! Rolling inevitably down the center right through the flippers. Load a quarter and start over again…
School, from third grade on, was painful. Sitting in classrooms for dreary hours upon hours tuning in and out to the teacher’s droning. The occasional, welcome sound of chalk scratching softly on the blackboard. The crisp feel of turning the pages of my four-inch-thick textbook, desperate to find something colorful and engaging. The hard flat seat of my wooden chair that made me squirm. Staring out the window to daydream. Often tuning in only to doodle in my notebook and, regrettably, sometimes misbehave. Badly. Then there was homework… Let’s just say that sometimes I did it and sometimes I didn’t. My teachers all thought I was being lazy and complained to my parents that I wasn’t coming close to realizing my potential.
On the other hand, I could lose myself for hours at the piano, singing or listening to music. I loved to read and write poems. Draw. Engage in imaginative play with my sister building forts and imaginary worlds.
Most of the time, I just felt stupid. A failure.
It has taken me most of my adult life to develop systems to manage my fruit-fly-attention-span brain. I keep things orderly. Make lists. Set reminders on my phone. Keep the notification sounds turned off. Everything in my home (that belongs to me) has a designated place and I methodically put things (cell phone, keys, mail) in one place. I try to stick to routines and I do my best to create a peaceful work space – even within a larger, chaotic environment.
I often wonder how my childhood and school years might have been different growing up now in the age of awareness about learning differences. As a child, ADHD wasn’t a known diagnosis. We were just kids who couldn’t sit still, misbehaved, were creative, clever but indolent.
All these years later, I am enrolled in an MA program for Education Technology learning about something called, Design Thinking! In order to navigate life with an exceedingly distractible brain, you have to become something of a design thinker. Frequently, I analyze my living and work spaces to support my being more productive and effective. The following gives a succinct definition of Design Thinking:
“Design thinking is an iterative approach to problem-solving that intentionally seeks out people with different perspectives, knowledge, skills and experience and has them work together to create a practical solution for a real-world problem.” – WhatIs.Techtarget
More about this subject later. If I remember to get back to it. One thing I have learned that is important for someone like me is “done is better than perfect!”
Putting a fork in this and calling it macaroni. Done!