Category Archives: ADHD Awareness

ADHD Awareness

@allontheboard information sign for public transport— in 
London, United Kingdom

“Issues can arise in day to day life. From mood swings and losing things to struggling to focus and getting ready on time.” Walking in circles with a head feeling like chaos, overwhelmed, highly emotional, and exhausted. As hard as it can be with ADHD, you are more than your condition, so don’t give up.”


ADHD Marbles: An analogy



You’re trying to manage all the stuff that neurotypical people are able to manage but it’s just too much. The marbles keep falling out of your hands. And everybody else is giving advice like “Why don’t you just put them in your bag?”


You lack that bag because your attention and emotions are not well regulated. The ADHD brain is either engaged and active or bored and unable to proceed. Also, executive function skills like being able to plan and work towards a future goal are compromised. It is bitterly discouraging to see people around you easily managing 150 marbles while you’re struggling to carry even 50. But the fact that you can even hold on to that many is incredible. You don’t have a bag, but you’re still trying.


It’s so much better than what you’re used to so when you FIRST start using it you feel on top of the world. Then you notice that marbles are still slowly falling out and you think “What’s the point, it’s just as bad as before.” But you have to remember it’s still worth it.

The worst thing you can do is trip over your emotions because of the marbles you’ve dropped. That’s my biggest struggle. I focus on one little thing I’ve messed up. All of a sudden I come crashing down and drop all the marbles I was able to hold just minutes before.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this but as soon as I thought of the analogy, I fixated on it (Hyper-focus perhaps?) and just had to share it. Hopefully, this helps you in some way.

Maybe HOLDING ONTO ALL YOUR MARBLES CAN BE A WAY TO EXPLAIN ADHD to yourself and people who don’t understand it.


Notes from the author: Not everyone wants/needs meds, and that’s fine! The “bag with a hole” can represent whatever coping mechanism fits you best (eg therapy). In addition, to those asking if they can “steal” this, no you can’t because I’m freely giving it to you. 😉 Do with it what you will, no credit necessary.

Editor’s note: This piece has been edited for clarity and syntax.

Found on Reddit ADHD page – Original source: u/emmeline29 on 3.8 K views in ten months 238 comments



Photo by Crissy Jarvis on Unsplash

Modified on





ADHD Awareness Month

October 2019 Newsletter


Stigma, misinformation, and fears about ADHD continually flood us with negative messages. Pre-conceived ideas, ignoring scientific evidence, and misinformation combined with a bias against medication make getting diagnosed and properly treated problematic throughout most of the world. The truth is out there, but spreading the news is a never-ending battle. Having a month devoted to sharing information, encouraging treatment, and even celebrating a common experience can provide relief for many.

This month you can find many different sources to help you understand and treat ADHD. Take advantage of everything that is offered as it meets your individual needs.

Participating in ADHD Awareness Month We list a number of online events for this month as well as ways to find support throughout the year. You can spend just a few minutes, listen to short daily presentations or attend longer Webinars. Whatever you choose, you can get a great education in ADHD and experience a powerful feeling of belonging.

It can be a personal revelation to attend a conference with other members of the ADHD “Tribe.” It’s also good to see those many professionals who want to learn more about how to treat ADHD effectively.

Both the United States and Canada have conferences coming up. In Canada, October 4th– the 6th are the dates for CADDRA’s  2019 Conference and Research Day in Toronto, Ontario.  (Canadian ADHD Resource Alliance) Sorry for the late notice. Save the date for next year’s conference now.

The 2019 Annual Conference on ADHD: Better Together is being held November 7 – 9 in Philiadelphia, PA. – Individual ticket – $390. $60 discount with membership in CHADD, ADDA, or ACO, (Children and Adults with ADHD, ADD in Adults, and ADHD Coaches Association)

Getting educated about ADHD and finding some form of support for your journey is so important. But, beyond a feeling of community, there is a lot of personal work involved in coming to your own awareness of the unique way that ADHD is expressed in your or your loved one’s lives.

 This month ADHD coach Jennie Friedman helps you plan for success in “ADHD Awareness – What next?.”   She explains:

“The ADHD brain works by its own rules. There’s a perpetual need for stimulation or novelty-seeking behavior that’s characteristic of the condition. Creating structure and developing routines helps, as does an interest in the task or subject, a sense of urgency, or immediate consequences or rewards for their actions to help successfully manage their life…just knowing about ADHD isn’t enough.

There’s a process involved after you first become aware. First, there is the issue of getting a diagnosis. Then comes the process of getting treatment, Medication, therapy, coaching, and/or other tools and strategies only work when they are used.”

All too often, we only dwell on the negatives of ADHD. Andrea Nordstrom reframes the way we often perceive Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder purely as a deficit in The ADHD Manifesto.  (2 ½ minutes) It’s a great pick-me-up if you’re ever feeling down about “being different.”

We don’t do life the normal way. we do it the ADD way! We are not broken. We are whole. When we fuel ourselves properly, our drive accelerates us.” ~ Andrea Nordstrom


There is hope with ADHD. Educate yourself. Do the work. Understand that your child WOULD do better if they COULD. Support them emotionally, create structure and help them learn self-regulation. Accept yourself just as you are. As you can, do better, but remember to leave the criticism behind. It doesn’t help anything.

Take care,

Joan Jager


Newsletter Photo by Łukasz Łada on Unsplash

Participate in ADHD month Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

Both photos are modified on

Participate in ADHD Awareness Month

Compiled by Joan Jager

October 2020

Learn more, Share information, Celebrate your uniqueness.


  • For beginners, a good place to start is the ADHD Awareness Month website. ADHD Myths and Facts: Know the Difference is hosted by CHADD, ADDA, and ACO ( This site takes an interactive approach inviting contributions from writers and artists as well as contests for video and meme creators. You may also view last years contest winners. Other material includes Webinar Recordings from 2013
  • The ADHD Awareness Expo will take place ONLINE October 1 – October 31, 2020 – They will feature 30 presenters for 15-minute videos. They have chosen their BEST videos sessions from over the past 10 years. Sounds great! Sign up for regular emails.
  • ADDA presents TADD TALKS – (American Deficit Disorder Association) – “TADD Talks are an ADHD-friendly riff on “TED talks.” TED talks are 18-minute presentations on a variety of interesting subjects, TADD recordings are only 9 minutes long (we do have a shorter attention span, you know!) on interesting ADHD topics.”
  •  2020 TADD Talks presented by ADDA. Sign up to receive informative emails as their speaker schedule fills in.
  • Also access the archives for 2018 and 2019 – ALL 31 days of October
  • For longer presentations, Look for Awareness month presentations in Upcoming ADDitude Magazine’s Webinars Sign up for free replay

Information and support throughout the year.

Our page Find Support for help finding local or online support groups as well as online communities. This is just one section of our extensive Find Help and Support resources collection. For smaller groups, see Options to Personal Coaching. Options to Personal Coaching

  •  ADDitudeMag Directory: Events
  • CHADD Affiliate Chapters 
  • ADDA Peer Support Groups – Telephone based – Peer support calls tailored for numerous specific audiences For example; Women over Fifty, Parents of Adult Children with ADHD, LGBT community support, Entrepreneurs, and more. Sessions run for six weeks to eight weeks at a time with various starting dates. Many will repeat quite often throughout the year.



Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

Modified on

Facebook design – Photo by Ben Rosett on Unsplash

Modified on




My ADHD Journey: Living with ADHD in Pakistan

By Haseeb Waqar

“My “ADHD” isn’t some label.
I own my ADHD.
I love it.
I thrive with it.
Don’t pity me.

I have been through hell and back more than once, and I’m still here, and I’m giving it my all to help as many people as I can and I’m proud of that.

I have many great qualities that define me more than my diagnosis ever will.



A boy was born. That hyperactive ball of energy did not sleep for the first 9 days of his life” tells my mother with a tiresome yet loving smile on her face. That, I would say, was a rock-solid hint as to what would come in time. I remember school being a dreary daily battle; running from one conflict to the next, never really understanding why things around me went so wrong. Unfortunately for me and multitudes of other kids my age, corporal punishment and indifference were the social norms in our schools and community. I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere, nobody understood me or even wanted to understand me. By the age of 10, my life of constant conflict had finally taken its toll on me. That little boy – once full of curiosity, joy, and always a chatty ball of energy – now become a fearful, silent recluse seeking solitude.

My mother noticed that I had gradually stopped talking in our home and began worrying for my well being. Before I knew it, my mother had changed my school hoping I might find more compassionate and understanding teachers there. For the first time in my life, luck hit me hard. I found myself in a happy place brimming with kindness and understanding – and with it my confidence and self-esteem sky-rocketed. All that built up shame and guilt from my past washed away as time went on. I felt joy every day and most of all: I finally felt normal. My mother showered me with her constant care and supported me through my ups and downs. Thanks to her vigilance, I couldn’t have felt any better.

Then on, I was oblivious to the term ADHD. What is it? What does it mean? Back then I didn’t care – I was living my life as a carefree teen, oblivious to how ADHD was affecting every aspect of my life. As fate would have it, my uncle – who is an ophthalmologist in the UK – had always suspected that I might have ADHD. He sent my mother a pamphlet detailing what ADHD was and all its symptoms. That is how I first came to know of the term ADHD and I was in for a huge revelation.

I could see my entire life reflected in what I was reading. I never realized that all of these things I struggled with were direct results of my ADHD. I finally started to feel like I wasn’t lazy, crazy or stupid. My curiosity naturally drove me to investigate everything there was to know about ADHD. As I kept on reading, I found myself overtaken by a myriad of feelings. I was completely shocked at how nobody had known why I was struggling all along and why no one had tried to help me. I was relieved because my life suddenly made sense, all this new knowledge was proof that every conflict that had brought me and others misery was never intentional on my part.

I couldn’t believe how a general lack of ‘basic’ understanding of ADHD had held my life hostage for so long. I felt immense regret over innumerable past conflicts that need not have happened. On the other hand, I couldn’t have been more grateful for the fact that now I had an explanation for why I had struggled all this time. The next challenge: Survive in a society without any tools and support systems for myself.

After failing to find support at home, I reached out to as many ADHD specialists across the world as I could. Constantly practicing vulnerability, introspection and brutal honesty helped me become more self-aware. With time and tons of self-work, I became capable of talking openly and publicly about my struggles and how I overcome them.

ADHD manifests differently for everyone, and no one should have to go through life feeling the way I felt. We should all have the opportunity to know who our true self is, and to learn to focus on our strengths and gifts rather than our weaknesses.

This is why I decided to go down the path of becoming an ADHD Behavioral Consultant, enabling other kids and adults with ADHD feel more confident, more courageous and less alone on the crazy journey that is ADHD. I want to empower those people, like me, who have been struggling for so many years.

Whether it be in daily life, social situations, career choices, etc. I want you to know that I can help. You are not alone. I know what you have been going through, and I want to help make you the best and happiest version of yourself. No matter where you are in life, I am always happy to talk about your experience with ADHD and to help you find your path in life.

Additional resources: Our latest newsletter was inspired by the points Hasseeb outlined in his story. We’ve provided questions to help you reflect on your own journey with ADHD. See ADHD: What is YOUR story? If you’re struggling with defining your strengths, check out the tools for self-discovery found in both of these articles. Be the Best Version of Yourself: Explore your Strengths by Coach Marla Cummins and/or Self Advocacy for ADHD: Know Yourself. Our Pinterest page ADHD: From the Trenches features many personal stories.

About the author: Abdul Haseeb Waqar is an ADHD Behavioral Consultant in Peshawar, Pakistan.  His mission in life is to help others with ADHD feel more courageous, more confident, and less lonely on the crazy journey that is ADHD. Haseeb is focused and intentional about mastering his ADHD and fighting stigma in his community. He loves talking to fellow ADHDers and listening to their stories.

He feels blessed to have found his ADHD tribe in his online community of friends. Their presence brings immense joy and helps him survive the hard times.

Haseeb uses the tagline The ADHD Rebel on Facebook.

Find him on Instagram @adhd_hasseeb.


Photos of Haseeb found on the ADHD Rebel on Facebook. Modified on









October is ADHD Awareness Month

Speaking the truth about ADHD as we know it.Stigma, misinformation, and fears about ADHD continually flood us with negative messages. Pre-conceived ideas, ignoring scientific evidence, and misinformation combined with a bias against medication make getting diagnosed and properly treated problematic throughout most of the world. The truth is out there, but spreading the news is a never-ending battle. Having a month devoted to sharing information, encouraging treatment, and even celebrating a common experience can provide relief for many.

Participating in ADHD Awareness Month  – We list a number of both online and in-person events for 2018. Get a great education and experience a powerful feeling of community.

Understanding the ADHD brain

Scientific research and new models of ADHD are proving that ADHD is much more involved than anyone has previously conceived.” As Joel Nigg, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University, says, “ADHD is a genetic disorder, but DNA is not working alone Stress, diet, and environmental toxins change the brain as well.” “ADHD is not a breakdown of the brain in one spot. It’s a breakdown in the connectivity, the communication networks, and an immaturity in these networks,” says “These brain networks are interrelated around

  • emotion,
  • attention,
  • behavior,
  • and arousal.

People with ADHD have trouble with global self-regulation, not just regulation of attention, which is why there are attentional and emotional issues.”
More Than Just Genes: How Environment, Lifestyle, and Stress Impact ADHD and Everything you Need to Know about ADHD.

Diagnosing and Treating ADHD is challenging

ADHD is a complex and highly comorbid disorder. “Diagnosis of ADHD requires much more than meeting the criteria set forth in a certain set of symptoms. You need to see a mental health professional who will take a complete history using personal questionnaires and interviews with the person, their family, or teachers. This process will help them assess your symptoms and see if your story “fits” what they might expect from ADHD.” (See ADHD Screening Tests for signs to look for when you suspect ADHD)

“Comorbidity or co-occurring means having two or more diagnosable and related conditions at the same time. Indeed, researchers are discovering that ADHD “seldom rides alone.” Studies suggest comorbidity rates between 50% and 90%. This complex interplay between ADHD and its commonly occurring comorbid psychiatric disorders complicates diagnosing and treating ADHD. (Taken from ADHD Grows Up ) For more on diagnosis, see “A Physician’s Perspective” listed below.

Medication is a personal choice that deserves much more attention than I can give it here. Please see A PHYSICIAN’S PERSPECTIVE on ADHD Medications by Theodore Mandelkorn, M.D. as well as Why I Choose to Medicate my ADHD Child by Diane Dempster for their viewpoints.

Managing ADHD is Possible

Our guest author, Mary Fowler explains. First, we must understand that most ADHD management is not a problem of knowing what to doIt’s a matter of doing what we know.” 

In her mini-workshop for teachers, Increase On-Task Performance for Students with ADHD, Mary describes in detail many specific tools to help children “do what they know” through simple support techniques  Although Mary’s advice is quite useful the classroom, the same understanding of ADHD and principles for getting things done remain true for all ages. It is well worth reading for yourself as well as sharing with your child’s school

But, DO NOT expect that using these ideas just a couple of times will change their behavior in the near future. That’s like expecting a child in a wheelchair to get up and walk up the stairs because they’ve used a ramp for a while. It’s not a lack of knowledge, but an inability to perform mundane or confusing tasks at an assigned time that is affected by ADHD.

External scaffolding is needed – like developing habits and routines, getting comfortable with transitioning between activities, strategies for starting and finishing projects as well as controlling one’s emotional responses.

“What you need to know about Attention Deficit Disorder:

  • Accept that supports may be needed across the lifespan of a person with ADHD.
  • Interventions have to happen in the here and now on an as-needed basis.
  • The strategies ONLY work when they are used.”

Acceptance and Community

In Learning to Accept Myself after my ADHD Diagnosis, Kristi Lazzar writes, “Getting diagnosed started me on the path of new growth, change, and yes, acceptance. I could finally be myself and stop wondering why I couldn’t be like everyone else. I could stop the self-loathing. I now had a name for my behaviors, which gave me something to work with. I could finally be myself. I could stop the self-loathing.”

“ADHD communities are extremely supportive and a wonderful place to learn about your diagnosis and what to expect. “When you feel lost and alone, it’s comforting to know that others get it. … My best teachers have been people like me.” An online community will do, but meeting in person or through a video Zoom connection is even more powerful. See our sections on Finding Support for ADHD and Options to Personal ADHD Coaching for help discovering your own “safe place.”    For an amazing feeling of community, you might want to attend the 2018 International Conference on ADHD in St. Louis, Missouri is being held on November 8th – 11th. 

The Art of Thriving with ADHD

Thriving with ADHD is a gradual process. You may be surprised to know that they aren’t about productivity; they’re about how you are feeling about yourself.” They are as much about accepting your unique personality quirks and gifts as they are about learning strategies to overcome your difficulties.  Author Kari Hogan says,Take advantage of your strengths. Identify what you’re strong in and find ways to do more of it.  When you realize “you’re a natural” at something, this is almost always an indication that you are playing to your strengths. And “Surround yourself with people who can embrace your differences and who accept you for who you are and for what you are not.” Only then does she offer a number of strategies in 16 Steps to Better Self-Esteem. (If link doesn’t work, Copy and paste:

  1. Your first step is STRUCTURE.
    By creating structure, each day, you’re giving yourself a reason to wake up and get out of bed!
  2. The second step echoes the first step. Set up a daily to-do list. This will give you a sense of accomplishment (it gives you a reason to be proud of yourself).
  3. Step 3. FOCUS on your good qualities….”


All too often, we dwell on the negatives of ADHD. Andrea Nordstrom reframes the way we look Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder as merely a deficit in The ADHD Manifesto. (2 ½ minutes) It’s a great pick-me-up if you’re ever feeling down about “being different.”

We don’t do life the normal way. we do it the ADD way! We are not broken. We are whole. When we fuel ourselves properly, our drive accelerates us.”


Joan Jager

ADD freeSources



Spiral Stairs Photo by Dan Freeman on Unsplash

Title page created on


Participate in ADHD Awareness Month

October 2018 - ADHD Awareness Month - ADHD Awareness - Learn more, Share information, Celebrate your uniqueness and Enjoy being togetherFind Activities for 2019 ADHD Awareness month here>>>

Learn more, Share information, Celebrate your uniqueness, and Enjoy being together


In Person


ADHD Awareness Month: The truth as we know it October 2018

Online and in-person events to participate in ADHD Awareness. Notes on the latest understanding of how the ADHD brain operates. The importance of coming to accept your ADHD, find community and live in tune with yourself, ADHD and all.


How to Hack your ADHD Brain

It’s neuroscience. Create the dopamine environment, and the brain does the rest.September 2018 Newsletter


Today is my Birthday. It’s a lovely day outside and I want to sit in the backyard and read the novel I’m half-way through. But my newsletter is past due so I’m taking the day to finish it. Yes, I’m still late sometimes and do things at the last minute or use embarrassment and shame to motivate myself. But I am learning to get things done without as much stress as in the past. You can too.

Luckily I’ve already got my two articles from guest authors on getting things done posted online and I’ve written a rough draft during 2-hour body double sessions spread throughout the month that help me focus on difficult tasks even when I DON’T WANT TO.


My thanks to Danielle Joy Scott, LMFT for sharing

7 Solid Productivity Tips for People with ADHD

  • Find the Right Work Environment
  • Filter Out Distracting Noise
  • Pick the Right Time
  • Long Blocks of Time Are Your Friend
  • Sometimes You Need To Start With a Treat
  • Just Start Someplace
  • Always Respect the Basics: sleep, exercise, and diet.

and to Leo Babauta of Zen Habits for his generosity of spirit and on-target advice in

ADHD, Zen, and the Clean-as-you-Go Principle

This “Principle.”Is pretty self-explanatory. Basically, instead of waiting for the house to get really dirty, you just clean a little bit at a time, but Leo shares some of his favorite tips.  Which is great because it also works for other areas of your life: finances, email, work tasks, even health and fitness routines


I stole the title of the newsletter from an article by Kevan Lee, Your Bain on Dopamine: The Science of Motivation. I highly recommend this non-technical article for more on how neuroscience meets productivity.

“How to hack your dopamine to boost your productivity,” he begins…

“Motivation happens when your dopamine spikes because you anticipate something important is about to happen… The brain can be trained to feed off of bursts of dopamine sparked by rewarding experiences. You create the dopamine environment, and the brain does the rest…”

“One way to achieve those rewarding experiences is by setting incremental goals. Dopamine will flow as a result of your brain’s positive reinforcement every time you complete a step and meet a challenge.”


I always like to include something for families or children, especially for “Twice-exceptional” families when both parent and child have ADHD because It’s not always fun to be a parent with ADHD. I hope you enjoy this excellent article by Jaclyn Paul of ADHD Homestead, Time Blindness, ADHD and those Days when Parenting just Sucks

“Parents with ADHD can struggle especially hard with the tough days. Our impulsivity sometimes makes it difficult to contain poor reactions to children’s goading. Emotional hyperfocus and time blindness keep us from seeing how our relationships with our children could ever improve. We feel trapped in that worst day, unable to see through to the past or the future…”

“Do yourself and your family a favor by learning about your ADHD and how it affects your behavior as a parent. Get your ADHD symptoms under control so you have a fighting chance of not flying off the handle when your kids try to get under your skin. And while you should let kids see you struggle to do your best, they shouldn’t see you lose your cool every time they frustrate you.”

I’ve also found a couple of good Videos. 

Undiagnosed in Millions, Do You Have it? (4-minute TedTalk)

What do 71% of alcoholics, a quarter of drug abusers and 45% of the prison population have in common? There are an estimated 9,000,000 American adults with ADHD, but only about 15% get diagnosed and treated. Alan Brown shares his personal trials of being one of the 85% who did not know that help is available. Now a successful entrepreneur and ADHD advocate, he calls on us to change the future of those not yet receiving the help they need.

To the Teachers of ADHD Students (8-minutes), Jessica McCabe of How to ADHD on YouTube offers an emotional appeal to teachers. She speaks from her own experience of feeling less than enough, with good potential but poor performance. “Be THAT teacher,” she says, that realizes that ADHD brains work differently and that’s OK. To know that students with ADHD need you to understand their challenges without judgment. Yes, they need help with their challenges, but more than that, your students NEED to know that they ARE enough and likable just as they are.


Hurrah! I just finished my body-double session and I’m halfway to the finish line.  I still have to post it online though and get out the email. So — it’s time for a break, something to eat and a short walk to revive my tired brain. I’m challenging myself to get it all done by 5 pm so my husband can make me dinner and reassure me that I’m not just getting older, but better as well.  (I got two Birthday phone calls, so I didn’t quite make my deadline. But it’s only 5:30 and I’m DONE for the day!)


Until next month,

Be well.

Joan Jager



Photo by YIFEI CHEN on Unsplash

Modified on






Adult ADHD: Soft Signs and Related Issues

By LuAnn Pierce, LCSW

ADHD in adults has many symptoms. The ones that are usually associated with ADHD may be easily recognized, but there are others that look like or create additional problems that can rise to the level of separate psychiatric disorders if not managed carefully.

As an Adult ADHD specialist and an adult with ADHD, I am quite familiar with these soft signs. They are not usually found in the diagnostic manuals, like the DSM-V, but experts in the field of ADHD write and teach about them. This is another reason it is so helpful to see an Adult ADHD specialist if you need help learning to manage the symptoms. Specialists have more training than just a couple of seminars about ADHD.

To find a true Adult ADHD specialist, you might want to ask questions about the person’s training and experience in the area of Adult ADHD. You might ask them how much specific training they have in adult ADHD (different from children’s ADHD) and how many clients they treat with Adult ADHD. Ideally, you can find someone who has significant experience and training in this field. (See Questions to Ask Before Scheduling an Appointment by Cynthia Hammer)

Other Lesser Known Symptoms of Adult ADHD

Some adults with ADHD may have recognized the ‘soft signs’ of ADHD in childhood and adolescence, but many do not acknowledge these (or confuse them with other problems) until adulthood. The following list is probably not all-inclusive but provides a good overview of the most common soft signs in the literature.

  • Hypersensitivity/ Sensory Overload – Some people with ADHD find they are very emotionally sensitive. They feel their feelings strongly, and often take on the feelings of others. These folks are like sponges absorbing the emotions around them. They are often considered highly sensitive people, as defined by Elaine Aron, Ph.D.

Some people with ADHD are very sensitive to touch, the feel of certain fabrics and tactile experiences, ie. the texture of some foods. These people find it difficult to tolerate tags in their clothes, the feel of specific foods in their mouths, scratchy or otherwise uncomfortable fabrics. Tight clothing or the way it feels to wear shoes that have laces can be a miserable experience for some people with ADHD. Personally, I could not eat baby food and still don’t eat many foods with that texture. I also had quite a reaction to getting my hair brushed, wearing tight clothes, tags in clothes and other experiences.

Many people feel claustrophobic in crowds or areas where there is a lot of noise, light, etc. Places like airports, stadiums and other areas where there are too many people, lots of noise, bright lights and chaos can be overwhelming for us. (Yes, I have this symptom, too.)

There are a number of related psychiatric disorders that may overlap in symptoms. Some people with Adult ADHD have enough of the symptoms to meet the criteria for diagnosis with a coexisting or comorbid disorder, like social phobia, anxiety, panic-attacks or sensory processing disorder. Others find that if they can learn skills to manage or minimize these situations, they can deal with it using specific skills and techniques. They often do not meet the criteria for a separate disorder but suffer from these ADHD-related symptoms nonetheless. (For those who have clinical anxiety, it will need to be treated by someone who understands both anxiety disorders and ADHD.)

  • Overwhelm or Overstimulation Many adults with ADHD describe feelings similar to anxiety that are related to hypersensitivity. For those whose symptoms do not meet the criteria for a separate disorder, overwhelm and overstimulation are often more accurate descriptions of the problem. Laypersons throw around terms like anxiety and panic attack without much thought or awareness of the criteria for diagnosis. If a person with ADHD experiences these symptoms in isolated incidents, learning how to manage the symptoms is usually preferable to taking on an additional diagnosis and highly addictive anti-anxiety medication.
  • OCD-like coping skills – (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) Some people with ADHD develop obsessive-compulsive type coping skills to manage the chronic disorganization and feelings of being overwhelmed. These behaviors are a way of compensating for the messiness of ADHD, but can also create a lot of anxiety if the person becomes rigid in his/her approach to coping. An example would be someone who can’t begin homework or a project until everything is in the exact proper place on the desk. In those cases, a type of paralysis can develop that prevents them from doing anything productive other than obsessing about getting things in order.

True OCD is driven by anxiety – it is a form of anxiety disorder. OCD-like skills used to cope with ADHD is different but may result in anxiety. The messiness of ADHD creates anxiety for some people when it reaches a certain point of being out-of-control. For many, this is a way of building up enough energy to actually start on a project or chore. We literally allow enough time and chaos to ensure that we create stress.

When the stress reaches a crescendo, people with ADHD finally stop procrastinating and act – often due to a looming deadline that we can no longer ignore. Other times it is because the chaos reaches the point of anxiety or frustration. Feelings of anxiety may be the result – even though it is self-imposed or created. Some experts call this type of anxiety cognitive anxiety – thinking without acting on your thoughts also known as ruminating. Managing it requires learning to deal with the underlying ADHD symptoms of procrastination, time management, and executing tasks (instead of delaying starting or worrying for an extended period and not acting).


  • Hyperfocus – Although it may be hard for us to get focused, once we get into something that triggers the dopamine we often get so focused we find it hard to stop or change tasks. This usually happens when we are doing something we really enjoy. For many, it happens when working on a project we are excited about, playing video games or getting pulled into social media.  It happens to me with writing when the topic is something I know well and feel passionate about. (Which is why this article is getting so long!)


  • Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria – Definitely not in the DSM-V, but a term coined by William Dodson, MD, one of the top experts in the field of ADHD. Dodson describes this as akin to atypical depression, which means it is not true depression but dysphoria, a term that means difficult to bear. In essence, Dodson has found with his patients a common theme of people who describe an internal state of arousal that prevents them from simply relaxing and enjoying life (hyperarousal vs. hyperactivity – remember after adolescence most of us show few symptoms of hyperactivity). The other commonality they reported is feeling devastated by failure or rejection. (See the first item in this list about hypersensitivity.)

This is an important distinction because Dodson links it to the differences in the ADHD nervous system, which he describes as hyperaroused. (Elaine Aron has found the same thing in people who are highly sensitive – a difference in central nervous processing). The literature is full of accounts of highly successful people with ADHD who report feeling ‘dysphoric’ when they experience failure or rejection. Behaviorists would have us believe that this reaction in adulthood stems from earlier experiences that trigger the emotions. Dodson says it is in the hard-wiring, and that about half of his patients have shown improvement with medication. This is worth noting as those who have this issue may want to consider talking to their medical provider about it now that they realize it may be ADHD-related.

It is important to know that some of these issues can be managed by learning to manage and/or treat ADHD effectively. 3 Defining Features of ADHD That Everyone Overlooks by William Dodson, MD  from ADDitude Magazine further expands on other less well know symptoms of ADHD as well as how to recognize and manage an interest-based nervous system for starting, following through, and getting things done. This interest-based nervous system states that Interest, Urgency, Challenge,  and Urgency are the keys to creating strategies for “turning on” the ADHD brain. A mnemonic device to remember these is “I see you now.” (I. for Interest, C for C.hallenge, You for U.rgency, and Now for N.ovelty.)

Treatment of ADHD is complicated – much more so than just taking a pill. Learn more about it in our Thriving with ADHD section. You can choose those articles or videos that meet your specific needs. Another article we have by this author covers additional methods in ADHD Success at College and Work.


Matlen, Terri. “Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Sticky!” ADDitude Magazine, n.d. Web. June 9, 2018.

Dodson, William, MD. “Devastated by Disapproval.” ADDitude Magazine, n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.

Dodson, William, MD. “The Fear of Failure is Real – and Profound,” ADDitude Magazine, n.d. Web June 9, 2018

Dodson, William, MD. “Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria” From Dodson’s website. n.d.  Web June 9, 2018


About the Author: LuAnn Pierce, LCSW has 30+ years in the field and is a guest author for a number of mental health-based websites. LuAnn offers solution-focused counseling to people in Colorado and Wyoming via teleconference or telephone. She also provides training and curriculum development to a variety of organizations. Contact Information:

Original article, “Adult ADHD: Other Soft Signs and Related Issues,” is used with permission from LuAnn Pierce and Theravive: Find a therapist  – “Our purpose is to help people everywhere find great counselors and psychologists. Everyone can have a new start in life.”


Photo by Ludde Lorentz on Unsplash    Modified on


ADHD: Own your story. April 2018 Newsletter


Be aware of how ADHD affects you. Know that you are worthy to seek help and get the best treatment available.ADHD: Acceptance and feeling worthy.


Good day to you all,

Spring may not have sprung for everyone, but the days are getting longer and MY mood is certainly improving. Hope you’ve had a fine month and are feeling good and in control of your life.

If not, I have a question for you, “How well have you accepted your ADHD? Or that your child has Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder? Do you doubt the diagnosis or feel helpless in the face of the many challenges impacting your personal or family life?

ADHD is NO ONE’S fault, but once you know about it, it is your RESPONSIBILITY. You and/or your child deserve to handle everyday life without undue stress and strain.

Why? Because you are WORTH it.

None of us are NORMAL. It doesn’t exist. All of us are somehow DIFFERENT. An article reporting on a Yale University study claims that all traits exist somewhere along a spectrum. This complicates diagnosing for medical professionals, but the degree of impairment determines whether the criteria for a diagnosis is met. Since an evaluation for ADHD requires that impairment be present in two or more settings, some type of intervention is indicated and could be of great value. Choosing to medicate and/or develop an ADHD friendly environment and a “bag of strategies and tricks” helps to “level the playing field.”  Get to know your strengths, the ways that ADHD impacts your life and learn how to DO something about it!

 This month, 3 authors have contributed 4 articles with lots of ideas to help you and your child. Enjoy these personal stories about coming to realize the necessity of treatment for all of your symptoms, whether it be medication or other interventions. Parents and adults both should find something that can help thrive despite negative effects from ADHD. I’ve also found 4 videos that explore the theme of self-awareness and acceptance of ADHD.

When you believe in your own worth and are willing to seek outside intervention to improve your life, ADHD need not be a barrier to success. You CAN find greater happiness in your life through knowledge, true acceptance of the disorder, and practicing empathy in how we speak to your child or yourself.

 Continue exploring the April Newsletter here >>>
Although lengthy, think of it as an ADHD Readers Digest. Choose what to read or watch according to your own needs.

Take care of yourself and be well,

Joan Jager
ADD freeSources

Link to the April 2018 Newsletter