The Search For Stimulation
So ADHD brains are highly motivated to find that unique balance of stimulation that enables optimal functioning. Whether ADHD brains overreact or underreact to the stimuli at hand, they rarely engage with moderate stimulation that falls in the gray area. ADHD brains tend to respond at one end of the continuum in most but not all areas of functioning. These opposite routes to the same goal explain how a high-energy, outgoing, talkative, over-subscribed individual and a shy, low-energy, passive, and withdrawn individual can each have an ADHD brain.
For some ADHD brains, optimal functioning involves augmenting the existing stimulation seeking louder, faster, bigger, funnier, and riskier the more intense, the better. Boredom is a common complaint for the owners of these brains. For them, it is physiologically uncomfortable when their under-aroused brains struggle to engage with their environment. In fact, in mundane, low-stimulation situations, these restless brains may compel their owners to increase the intensity level with fidgeting, noise, laughter, or conflict, if there is no other route to high stimulation available. These more impulsive ADHD brains have their own logic: If some stimulation is good, more is better. This is the signature short-sighted philosophy of brains compelled to choose immediate rewards over long-term gratification.
The 2 Reactions To Boredom
When our brains are understimulated, its uncomfortable, and we all go searching- searching for interest, for stimulation, and for intrigue. But we dont all do it the same way- in fact, research has shown that people tend to have 2 reactions to boredom:
Internal seekers tend to lose energy when they are bored, they disengage, and their mind wanders. They tend to look inside for solutions to their boredom- through daydreaming, problem-solving or fantasizing.
External seekers look outside themselves for stimulation. They tend to get irritated and feel a build-up of restless energy if they are not engaged. They look for activities, people, or substances to quell that agitation.
Understanding Adhd In Adults
Life can be a balancing act for any adult, but if you find yourself constantly late, disorganized, forgetful, and overwhelmed by your responsibilities, you may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , previously known as ADD. ADHD affects many adults, and its wide variety of frustrating symptoms can hinder everything from your relationships to your career.
While scientists arent sure exactly what causes ADHD, they think its likely caused by a combination of genes, environment, and slight differences in how the brain is hardwired. If you were diagnosed with childhood ADHD or ADD, chances are youve carried at least some of the symptoms into adulthood. But even if you were never diagnosed as a child, that doesnt mean ADHD cant affect you as an adult.
The good news is that no matter how overwhelming it feels, the challenges of attention deficit disorder are beatable. With education, support, and a little creativity, you can learn to manage the symptoms of adult ADHDeven turning some of your weaknesses into strengths. Its never too late to turn the difficulties of adult ADHD around and start succeeding on your own terms.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Adhd In Adults
In adults, attention deficit disorder often looks quite different than it does in childrenand its symptoms are unique for each individual. The following categories highlight common symptoms of adult ADHD. Do your best to identify the areas where you experience difficulty. Once you pinpoint your most problematic symptoms, you can start implementing strategies for dealing with them.
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What Does Adhd Boredom Feel Like
Boring situations when you have ADHD can feel like you’re trapped in a place with no escape and that everything is unbearable for your brain. You cannot stand to sit still and suffer through that boredom and you want to shift your focus as soon as possible because it feels insufferable ðð»ââï¸
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Parent Education And Support
Mental health professionals can educate the parents of a child with ADHD about the disorder and how it affects a family. They also can help parents and children develop new skills, attitudes, and ways of relating to each other. Examples include parenting skills training, stress management techniques for parents, and support groups that help parents and families connect with others who have similar concerns.
Get The Most Out Of Moving Around
The effects of exercise only last for so long, just like medicine. Think of your workout as a treatment “dose.” Aim for at least one 30- to 40-minute activity a day, 4 or 5 days a week.
The exercise you choose is up to you, but make sure it’s “moderately intense,” which means that during your workout:
Talk to your doctor if you’re unsure how intense your exercise should be. They may recommend you to use a heart rate monitor or some other device to make sure you get the most out of your workout.
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How To Keep At It
Just like medicine, exercise only helps you treat ADHD if you keep it up. But if you have problems with attention span, how do you stay the course? Try these tips:
Keep it interesting. Switch up the type of exercise. You can stay out of a rut if you change your activity every day or week.
Find a partner. A workout buddy can help you stay on track and help pass the time while you sweat.
Move in the morning. If it fits in your schedule, exercise first thing in the morning before you take your medication. That way, you’ll get the most benefit from all the extra mood-boosting chemicals in your body.
Maintain meds. Exercise can give you a huge leg up on your ADHD symptoms, but it doesn’t replace your medication. Don’t stop your other treatments unless your doctor says it’s OK.
What Exactly Do These Games Do
“In each brain cell, we have a little fuel tank, like a car,” explains Dr. Gimple. “The trouble with ADHD patient is that this tank of fuel has holes, so you don’t have fuel to allow for effective stimulation between brain cells. But if you do these activities, you are creating new cellsyou’re adding more fuel.”
However, much like one visit to the gym won’t build muscle mass, these changes don’t normally occur until after 50 to 70 hours of BET, according to Dr. Gimple.
While there have been no published studies examining Gimpel’s theory in people with ADHD, other research suggests that some mental activities can aid concentration.
Early results from a Wake Forest University study show that attention training can change brain activity and improve concentration in people ages 65 to 75. The Wake Forest researchers suggest that crossword puzzles and Sudoku-type games are two easy ways for older adults to keep their minds young.
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Do A Project Together
Working on a project together can be a fun way to bond with your child while also helping them to focus their energy.
Examples of projects you might work on together include:
- Creating a storybook
- Craft projects
- Dress up games
Choose a project that is age-appropriate and let your child take the lead. This can be a great way to help your child build self-regulation skills. Finishing a project with your help can also help them gain a sense of mastery and accomplishment.
Neurology Explains A Lot
Understanding what ADHD brains want makes it clear that the struggle for self-regulation is neurological, and has nothing to do with character deficiencies. For example, it would be easy to misinterpret the following scenario as a standoff between two partners: Imagine that your partner asks you to pay the electric bill, and you say to yourself, OK, I have time to do that today. But when you sit down to do it, you keep getting distracted. The ADHD brain needs higher stimulation in order to complete this rote task with minimal payoff. Your ADHD brain says, That task is way too boring, and I cant focus on it. Find something that interests me more, which offers me a bigger dopamine reward, and Ill work with you. It doesnt matter that you know you should pay the bill as promised if your brain wont engage, its an ugly standoff. Perhaps, after a day of procrastination when your partner will be home in 20 minutes and the bill is still unpaid there may be enough of an adrenaline rush from a sense of crisis that your brain will engage and you pay the bill.
The ADHD brain and its owner are at odds with one another. Its difficult to compel a disengaged brain to engage by force of will. In fact, much of the treatment for ADHD involves learning to psych out the brain, so that it will attend to necessary, low-stimulation tasks.
Ellen Littman, Ph.D., is a member of ADDitudes ADHD Medical Review Panel.
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How Do Sensory Activities Help Seekers
Childrens bodies intuitively know what they need. Thats why sensory seeking behaviors happen in the first place. When theres an unmet sensory need, your child will do what they can to fulfill it.
But, often this doesnt happen in the best ways, or at the best times .
Using sensory activities provides sensory seekers with appropriate ways to get the extra stimulation they need without being disruptive.
In fact, planning activities throughout the day that provide intense doses of sensory input can keep childrens sensory needs met and allow them to stay calm and focuses when its most important.
Ideally, your child should have a 5 to 10-minute sensory activity every 1-2 hours. However, they should also have a total of 90 minutes of moderate to intense exercise per day.
The Link Between Adhd Brain And Boredom
I have ADHD and I get bored easily. My Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is conducive to increased boredom and it used to be the bane of my existence. Most people with ADHD tend to always feel on the go and feel the need to be moving because they’re so restless. That means we also need to constantly be engaged in something or we’ll quickly start to feel bored and want to do something else that we think is more exciting and rewarding.
It’s not easy living with ADHD when you have this type of mindset. When we experience boredom, we often rely on activities like watching YouTube, playing video games, watching TV shows & movies , reading books and doing anything remotely interesting to help us avoid boredom at all costs. That’s the dark side of ADHD. ð
Personally, I always have to do something that I think is more productive even eating can be unbearable for me. I need to talk to someone or watch TV or listen to a podcast while I am eating or I feel like something is missing. I’m wasting precious minutes of my life “just” eating, am I the only one like that? ð
That’s just an example, for a lot of people with ADHD, their minds are always racing, never taking a break. Always thinking about something, usually deep into the hyper fixation of the moment.
That can be a real challenge when you are trying to do something that requires you to not think as much as meditating, writing, or you just want to fall asleep – hence ADHD & Sleep disorder comorbidity.
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Adhd And Brain Stimulation
Robert Myers, PhD, is a Child Psychologist who happens to have a son with ADHD. Dr Myers is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at UC Irvine School of Medicine. He recently wrote a very helpful article entitled “ADHD, Empowering Parents.” I want to suggest that the article can be helpful to adults with ADHD. More can be learned about this at:First, he likens the experience of the ADHD child, to living in a video game with sounds, blinking lights and sensations coming at you all at once. The confusion created by all this over stimulation makes it impossible to concentrate. Unable to concentrate, memory, following directions and completing tasks, whether at home or in school, are unachievable.
Dr. Myers asserts that cognitive exercises along with behavioral and skills training can help the ADHD child develop and strengthen the parts of the brain implicated in ADHD and enable the child to improve memory, concentration and impulse control. Here are a few examples of cognitive exercises that everyone can use.
Cautionary note: None of these suggestions are a substitute for having an evaluation done on any child or adult suspected of suffering from ADHD. Nor are these a substitute for the correct types of medical treatment that might be deemed necessary. Here are a few of his suggested exercises:
These suggestions are taken from the article about Dr. Myers and the full article can be found at:
Allan N. Schwartz, PhD
Are You Running On Empty
Think about when ADHD challenges tend to show up in your life. Do you notice a pattern? When do you struggle with focus and attention most? When do you have problems with motivation and sustaining effort? When do you tend to be moody? When you are engaged in difficult, mundane tasks, distractibility, procrastination, inattention, or hyperactivity are likely to be most apparent.
Now think of a time when you totally rocked, a time when you were a superstar! You were on time, in the groove, at the top of your game. I bet that you were doing something you are good at, that you enjoy, with people you like , you were in a good mood, and maybe you were having fun.
When you are in the groove, your brain is awash with dopamine, and the symptoms that you have struggled with can be your greatest asset. For instance, what presents as impulsivity in one instance makes you spontaneous, creative, and able to take a risk in a crisis. A great way to manage ADHD is to design a life that keeps you interested and engaged and your dopamine flowing.
There are many ways to play, and most people have activities they prefer and ways of doing things that light them up. How do you know what these are?
1. Recall in detail how you enjoyed playing as a kid, whether it was riding a bike, baking a cake, creating a work of art, or acting in a play. Most adults find that the way they played as kids is how they like to play now.
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Figure Out Your Elements Of Interest
One of the first things you can try is to figure out what activities, work, assignments, and outlets of expression are interesting to you.
If you dont know, taking some self-discovery time may help to find activities that will allow you to avoid boredom.
When you find what you prefer, you can spend some time each day focusing on that activity to help stimulate you and prevent boredom from setting in.
Play Helps Adhd Adults Reduce Overwhelm And Stress
As an Adult with ADHD, if you are experiencing significant overwhelm and stress, it is likely in part caused by your ADHD symptoms. So, you definitely want to learn how to manage these symptoms well enough.
But working too much on managing your weaknesses can also contribute to your overwhelm and stress. So, the trick is to find some balancebetween:
- working on areas you want to change
- working in your areas of strength
- just being or playing.
Remember, when you play the only goal is to have fun and forget about work and other commitments. Without a respite from work you may burn out and not be able follow through on your commitments.
Maybe youve already had this experience.
Of course, Im not sure what the right balance between work and play is for you. Youll have to do some experimenting to figure this out.
What can you do this week to have more balance between work and play?
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Is Boredom One Of The Adhd Symptoms
Boredom is currently not listed as an official symptom of ADHD per the DSM-V. It can be the direct consequence of a combination of some official ADHD symptoms like difficulties waiting, difficulties relaxing, and difficulties paying attention. The bottom line is that ADHD tends to be fertile ground for boredom if not stimulated properly.
Play Can Help Adhd Adults Improve Executive Functions
While play as a means of having fun is, of course, a good enough end in and of itself, play can also help Adults with ADHD be more productive.
As you already know, when a task is not interesting for you, it can feel like slogging through quicksand when you try to do it. That is, if you can even get started!
One of the reasons for this sense of inertia is a lack of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, needed for the various parts of your brain to do their job and enable you to:
- pay attention
- regulate your emotions
When you play dopamine is released, helping the various parts of your brain to carry out the above executive functions necessary to be productive.
Nice, right? All from having fun!
How can you be more playful in your approach to your tasks so you can be more productive?
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