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You, Me, and ADHD

Gila Arnold

When your spouse forgets to pick up the kids, can’t keep the house clean, and can’t carry on a conversation with you for more than two minutes, ADHD might be at play. How to live — and grow — with a spouse with ADHD.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The ability to focus on an important signal (like the teacher’s voice) and filter out the buzz of surrounding stimuli (like the hum of the air conditioner) happens naturally in those without attention disorders. But for someone with ADHD, this task is exceedingly hard. Attention deficit disorder (the H stands for hyperactivity, which is present in about two-thirds of cases) is a neurochemical disorder that encompasses difficulties in sustaining attention to tasks (distractibility), poor impulse control (impulsivity), and excessive activity/physical restlessness (hyperactivity).While there has been a marked increase in public awareness in recent years, the disorder is still misunderstood, as are those suffering from it. Children with ADHD are often decried as “lazy” and “unruly,” labels that may stick into adulthood — when, in the majority of cases, the disorder doesn’t disappear, it simply rears its head in new and more complex ways.“An adult with untreated ADHD may come with lots of baggage,” saysDr.AvrahamOren, a Jerusalem-based pediatrician and ADHD specialist. “He’s emerging from what was likely a difficult childhood, feeling like a failure both in school and socially.”Aside from the emotional burden, adults with ADHD have trouble with executive functions, a cognitive ability that is not very taxed in children, but suddenly moves front-and-center in adulthood. “Executive functions — the ability to organize and manage cognitive processes (such as working memory, reasoning, and problem-solving) in order to plan and execute a task — is a huge challenge for the ADHD brain,” explainsDr.Oren. As an example, the task of getting a child to school requires the ability to wake the child up, get him dressed, get his lunch ready, get him out to the bus on time — and to give yourself and your child enough time to accomplish all this.Many people have trouble with such life tasks, but go through their days wondering what’s wrong with them, rather than getting the help they need.

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