Discover the Hidden Challenges of ADHD

Under Construction…

What works for one, may not work for all…

BLAMING someone, who is struggling and frustrated by this disorder will only exacerbate their problems.  What might be an obvious solution for dealing with a particular ADHD symptom, may not in reality be the answer for a given individual.  Following are some examples, which will illustrate the complex challenges this disorder presents.

Please Note – Sometimes the best medicine is simply to laugh about the absurdity of it all.

Time Management – Time Blindness

Using bells and whistles may not work, because…

  • You have to remember to set them.
  • Once they go off, you can still get distracted while looking for your gloves, grabbing an umbrella, or realizing you forgot to pack your lunch.
  • You forget why you set the alarm.
  • You have so many alarms, so you are not sure which one is which.
  • It takes too much time to set the alarms.
  • You remember something you forgot, and get stuck trying to “decide” whether you should go back to get it.

Sticky Notes and Lists

Can make life more confusing, when…

  • You forget to bring the list.
  • You have so many lists, you put a task on the wrong list.
  • You cannot find the list you need, and you are going to be late.
  • You need a list for your list of lists.
  • You run out of colors for all of the categories of sticky notes.
  • The sticky note falls on the wall and land on the bottom of your shoe…saw that one in a movie.
  • You have difficulty remembering what each color stands for…i.e. you forgot to write down the “system,” or cannot remember where you wrote it down.
  • You become a compulsive organizer.  You need to control the external environment to offset their internal chaos, but don’t have much time for anything else, once that is done.

Emotional Dysregulation

It’s complicated…

  • You decide to walk away to avoid blurting something inappropriate out, but the other person finds that rude.
  • You do not call someone back because you have no excuse
  • You shame yourself, because you have no excuse, and then you get too depressed to do anything else.
  • You are honest with a friend, and they think you are too judgmental.
  • People stop trusting you, because you are not dependable.

Speaking Loudly

  • When someone interrupts you, you speak over them to finish making your point.
  • When there is noise around you, you speak louder, because you cannot hear yourself think.
  • When you are not being validated, you think the other person is not “hearing” you, so you keep repeating yourself.

Noise interference

  • You ask someone to lower their voice so you can concentrate, but then you need to talk to yourself aloud to try to distract yourself from their whispering.
  • You turn the television on louder than most people would like, because they are talking and you cannot tune them out, but then they talk even louder.
  • You use music to focus, which annoys the other person in the room who has ADHD and needs silence.

Decision Making

  • You make a decision quickly, but then continue to second guess yourself for hours.
  • You cannot make a decision, because the pros and cons keep competing, and you have made so many poor decisions in the past.
  • Things go wrong no matter what you do, so you know neither of the choices are going to work due to your ADHD challenges.

Sensory Issues

  • You find yourself irritated by clothing, and cannot tune it out.
  • Someone’s perfume gives you a headache, and all you can think about is what you would like to say to them, or how “selfish” it is for them to be wearing it.
  • You smell some food, and all you can think about is what you are having for lunch.

Circadian Rhythm – Sleeping, Eating, Body Temperature

  • Night Owls –  people with ADHD often show greater alertness in the evening, which is the opposite of what is found in the general population.
  • Foggy in the morning.  Difficulty getting their engines started.
  • Diet may impact their dopamine levels, so they choose not to eat: which creates other problems.
  • Do not remember to eat, or stop to use the restroom…because they are hyperfocused on something else.  
  • Blind to body cues, or aware of what is irritating them, because are already frustrated and overwhelmed by what others are telling them to do.

Addictive Behavior

  • Provides a sense of control and comfort, which is lacking in their lives.
  • Self-medication – food, exercise, work, sex, video games.  


  • Difficulty paying attention to details, especially with novel concepts.
  • Inability to pay attention when someone speaks too slowly.
  • May appear not to be listening when they are.
  • May appear to be listening, when they are not.

Working Memory

  • Forget what they are doing, and end up doing something else.
  • Do the steps of a given task in the wrong order.
  • Forget who they told what.

Social Cues and Body Language

  • May often miss social skills and body language when they are focusing on the words in a conversation.  
  • May be distracted my movement when trying to focus on a conversation.

Control versus Narcissism

  • Habits or preferences necessary to maximize focus and productivity can be interpreted by others as selfish or narcissistic.
  • Feel guilty asking for what they need, but know they will not succeed without accommodations.


  • Knowing their own pain, they develop a great deal of empathy, but in their effort to support others, they must choose to ignore their own needs for structure and predictability. 
  • It is exhausting.  People with ADHD feel deeply.


  • Cause a multitude of problems, which impact relationships, finances, employment, education, health, etc.
  • Awareness of impulsivity leads to the fear of making the same mistakes again and again.





Articles and Resources

Is ADHD really a sleep problem?




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