Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
It's pretty much a household concept... and most non-afflicted people have an idea that we're talking about what ails "that crazy kid who's bouncing off the walls in class and always getting in trouble."
I was in my 40's before someone said "you're just really ADD!" Back then, it was still somewhat "correct terminology" to distinguish between "ADD" and "ADHD."
I sort of rejected the idea... mostly because I have always been a "slow" person rather than a "speedy" person.
Although I'd keenly researched everything from dyslexia to narcolepsy as the cause of my inability to stay on task-- combined with the onset of "brain fog" and "drifting" whenever I needed to concentrate-- I never really gave any time to ADD... mostly because (a) I just could not identify with the "hyperactivity" part, (b) 99% of the information seemed to be "about kids" and (c) when you Google "ADD" you come up with 76 million results relating to mathematics... and I lacked the concentration power to sift through them to look for small number relating to mental conditions.
At age 51, I finally came to realize that "what has ailed me" for half a century is called (by current terminology) "ADHD Inattentive Type." In fact, it fits me alarmingly well.
Rather than regurgitate diagnostic criteria, what follows is a list of sentences, concepts and snippets from descriptions of-- and articles about-- ADHD Inattentive, all of which are "summary nuggets" of how I have experienced the condition, and what I have heard from my environment:
- Trouble focusing on the task at hand (I'm OK for maybe 5-10 minutes, and then my head feels like it is going to explode)
- Difficulty learning and retaining new information (very often true-- especially the "retaining" part; I often just have to look at something over and over and over before I get it. But then I really get it)
- Functions best with a predictable schedule (absolutely. Goes along with the "becoming confused easily." It's not that I don't LIKE changes, but they are very difficult for me to navigate)
- Frequent daydreaming (absolutely. That was a problem from first grade on)
- Becoming confused easily (quite an eye-opener for me. I really believed I had some kind of learning disability... when I "lose my place" I truly struggle to re-find it)
- Seems to not listen to conversations (SO true! The key word is "seems." I am often tracking the conversation... along with several other thoughts. At least if the conversation is interesting... uh-oh..)
- Processing information more slowly, but with greater accuracy than peers (always an issue for me. And I'd rather know a few things really well, than a lot of things superficially)
- Remove sources of distraction from the environment (I have always preferred simplicity. Let'sd not "complexify" things because it just makes them longer to do. I don't care if the solution is more "elegant.")
- Give brief and clear instructions (Yes! Never assume I find something to be self-evident, just because you do. I'm not stupid, my brain is just wired differently)
- People with ADHD Inattentive are often seen as lazy or apathetic (Indeed, I have been called both... and I have even labeled myself as such)
- Been called "spacey" or "disconnected" (Absolutely. Along with the "absent minded professor" comments... I always attributed it to bad short-term memory)
I sometimes believe another reason I didn't discover my "condition" till late in life is that I am male, and the majority of those afflicted with the inattentive variant of ADHD are female.
The Inattentive variant of ADHD is basically an "invisible" ailment. Because we are mostly quiet and cause no trouble, we are mainly seen as "flakes and daydreamers," not as someone who's struggling with a legitimate condition. Many of us are not diagnosed till late in life; many of us send up "self-diagnosed" as a result of our own curiosity... that is my story. There is no "fixing" it. Unlike the "hyperactive" variant, the inattentive variant doesn't really respond to medication. We don't need "slowing down;" we are already "slow."