January 2005 - Volume I - Issue XIII

ADHD: Brain like a computer screensaver

Statement: My intent in this newsletter is to express as quickly as possible my own beliefs and opinions on matters. I have no problems with people who disagree with my opinion and have even been swayed to rethink my position from time to time.

I wanted to let you know that sales of my book for the first month were better than I expected, and that I have yet to receive any negative feedback on it. If you would like more information on it, you can order it at this link below at my author's discount... book order >>>

Here is a link to an article that appeared in the paper on my book
Iowa City Press Citizen, "Attention disorder inspires local author" >>>

The poster has also been selling well. Read more about the poster >>>

If you think of the brain as a computer people with ADHD often seem to have a lot of viruses. Sometimes we shut down unexpectedly, we are very distracted by spam (unwanted outside stimuli) and sometimes when we try and retrieve information, things just don't seem to operate correctly when we need them to.

Our ability to stay on task and pay attention it seems is directly proportionate to the stimulation we receive by doing the task. If it is repetitive, uninteresting, boring or mind numbing it is difficult to focus. Now everyone has these problem not just persons with ADHD. The difference is that in persons with ADHD instead of remaining alert our brains can actually shut down involuntarily on us. I make the analogy of a computer screen saver. Suppose we are sitting at the computer working on something that is not very stimulating. We may soon find ourselves distracted and depending on the time setting on our screen saver all of the sudden the screen saver is on the computer. I believe and there have been some studies that this is the result of this involuntary shutdown of the brain. We look distracted to others; we are not following the conversation or surrounding events. Until we do something the screen saver (our brains) will continue to cycle without anything getting input or received by our brain.

Suddenly we realize that we are not paying attention and start effortfully trying to stay on task and the screen saver goes away. Based on our abilities to override the distractions we may be able to continue without the screen saver clicking back on. Or we may in a manner of minutes find ourselves right back in front of the screen with the screen saver back on.

To many this may look like laziness or lack of willpower. People might think it is obvious that this person can stay on task if they really want to. If they only realized that it would so much easier for us to be able to override this. They don't realize that it is almost impossible in some situations to sustain that attention. It is not a matter of won't but a matter of can't. It does not make us anymore lazy, irresponsible or unmotivated than the next person. It is just that our brains do not operate the same.

Would we be happy to give up this problem if we could? YES, YES, YES. How much easier life would be for us if we could do what everyone expected us to do? It is even harder because most of us have very high intelligence levels and know that we should be able to do these things. Our struggles cause us to sometimes validate others opinions of us as being uncaring, unmotivated and not working up to our potential.

They see us when we are doing an activity that stimulates us and how we seem to hyperfocusing on that for hours and cannot understand this paradox. It is natural that they might see this as being lazy. Trying to convince them otherwise usually is seen as excuse making which is counterproductive. Medication may or may not help us. Sometimes we can improve by practicing attentiveness techniques, setting alarms or timers, or just noticing when the screen saver pops on. Sometimes these things don't work for us either.

I know that if given the option of being able to pay attention and stay on task versus distractibility, that all of us know it is ten times the work to have the distractions. If someone honestly feels that we want to work ten times harder to stay out of trouble and do what we are suppose to be doing as opposed to just having the natural ability to do it with little or no effort they would quickly recognize our dilemma.

From childhood to adulthood it would be easier and less work if we just fit in with the majority of others. Since we struggle when we would prefer not to it means that our brains are not working the same as most others. We want to do things right, it would be so much easier on not only us but those we love, our bosses our teachers and our classmates.

The answers to this are to keep reading on ADHD and educating ourselves. Asking others for help in those areas where we struggle. Ask classmates and co-workers to tap us if we seem to be drifting off. Continue working to be better.

Don't give up.

Talk to you next month.

Patrick Hurley

FIRST EVER Poster devoted to ADHD

If you know on anyone who might like this newsletter please forward it to them and tell them to go to my web site at addcorridorcoaching.com and sign up.

Author's Bio: 

51 years old, diagnosed with ADHD at age 42. Facilitator for ADHD support groups since 1997, 17 years as Lieutenant on Sheriffs Department, 5 years as Adult Probation Officer, Co-Author of new book released December 2004 "ADHD and the Criminal Justice System" ADHD Coach since August 2003