At home, the search for the car keys lasts over an hour, only to discover that the keys are in the ignition.
On the way to crossing a border during vacation, it is revealed that the passport has been left at the last hotel.
This is everyday life with a person who has ADD. Regardless of the environment, age of the person, or level of intelligence, ADD is pervasive. Loving someone with this disorder can be frustrating at times. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind.
Understand. ADD is not an acquired disorder, no one asks to have it. The latest research has shown that ADD is a chemical imbalance affecting the way the brain functions. This is why many of the medications currently in use are very effective in treatment of ADD. A person with ADD tends to lose things, is easily distracted, has difficulty concentrating, and forgets what has been said. Study the disorder to know what to expect.
Remember. None of the acts mentioned above are intentional. ADD is not laziness, stupidity, irresponsibility, or immaturity (a person can be these things in addition to ADD but ADD is not the cause). There are some good aspects to ADD. For instance, many of them have the ability to hyper focus on something of great interest. This allows them to work for long periods of time without eating, sleeping, or taking a break. They also have the ability to take in large quantities of information in a second and can have a heightened awareness of their surroundings.
Assist. This is not about enabling. Enabling is constantly reminding, finding, and managing. This is about assisting. Assisting is reminding after being asked, helping to find things after they have looked, and refusing to manage their lives. Everyone is responsible for their own actions so it is not a good idea to take on additional responsibility, that will only lead to exhaustion. Rather, be observant for things out of place keeping a mental inventory so when something is needed, it can quickly be discovered.
Encourage. Another way of assisting is to positively encourage the person with ADD to develop almost obsessive compulsive like coping mechanisms. For instance, have a bowl by the entrance that makes a noise when keys are place in it by the door. This noise is subtile reminder signaling the proper placement of the keys. Or keep a spare credit card in the glove box of the car to be used for emergencies when the wallet has been left behind. Any habitual route that can be added to a day to cover daily tasks is helpful.
Grace. No one is without faults. Everyone has challenges to overcome and personal issues that need good coping mechanisms. One disorder is not any better than another, it is just different. Learn to accept ADD for what it is and don’t become frustrated when it rears it’s ugly side. Because ADD is not curable, only manageable even with medication, resist the urge to set unreasonable expectations for the person. Instead, as the person who loves someone with ADD, there should be ample amounts of grace, forgiveness, and understanding.
Living with someone who has ADD can be exciting. There is never a dull moment as they are nearly always “On” and have very unique ways of observing their environment. They are definitely not boring. Granted, some of the surprises don’t come at convenient times. But then it won’t be much of one if it did.