Sunday, August 30, 2009

Is It "Miscommunication"—or Could It Be Adult ADHD?

With a warm smile and a kiss, Diane welcomed fiancé George at her front door and then noticed fresh mud on his shoes. In a pleasant tone of voice, she asked him to please leave his boots on the stairs. 

Puzzled, he said, "Your suits stare? Huh? What on earth are you talking about?" Despite her clarification, George remained convinced that Diane had said exactly that. Moreover, she'd said it with that tone (presumably, the disapproving kind). 
  It wasn't this pair's first tangled communication. In fact, it happened so often, George had his hearing checked but it seemed fine. Their couples therapist suggested that George might bear deep-seated psychological resistance to listening to Diane.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Fortunately, George's ADHD diagnosis came just as these "miscommunications" reached fever pitch. He and Diane felt relief when the cognitive therapist explained how ADHD has a common traveling companion called Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD). Briefly, it can cause a person to misinterpret content and even tone of voice (more details about CAPD in a minute). The therapist provided the couple strategies for enhancing communications, noting that stimulant medication can often help "strengthen the signal." 
      What signal is this? The one that travels from Point A (the ear, where sound waves enter) to Point B (the brain's auditory processing cortex, where sounds are interpreted and given meaning). (See illustration below.) 
      This journey is made possible thanks to brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. If certain neurotransmitters are in short supply, messages won't get through or arrive intact. (It's sort of like using a dial-up modem when you're trying to transmit a big  file: Data-corruption happens.) 
      In addition to weak signal strength, consider other ADHD-related neurobehaviors that might be contributing to your Tower of Babel Twosome: Distractibility, inattention, poor working memory and even difficulty reading social cues, including facial expressions. As one young man with ADHD put it (in a video produced by ADHD educator Chris Dendy): "It's like living life listening to people speaking a language that you don't understand, with no translation available." 
      The stress of knowing that communications are going badly only makes things worse for the adult with ADHD, especially when it comes to talking about personal issues, according to my friend Carl, who along with his wife was diagnosed eight years ago. "With stress, ADDers tend to get 'brainlock' and realize there's no hope of expressing themselves and having a 'real' conversation the way you want," Carl says. "So, they frantically search for the right thing to say to make it go away, since they can't express what they're really feeling. They can't even define or focus on what they're feeling, let alone talk about it to anyone else." 
      Then there's my friend Mary, who is heartbroken about the state of her marriage: "I just don't know how to talk to my husband anymore. If we make an agreement, he forgets it or complains about it, makes an excuse to break the agreement, or accuses me of remembering it incorrectly."

An Ears-On Demonstration

Recently, I attended a lecture where a psychiatrist (who both has ADHD and treats it) demonstrated how ADHD can challenge one's ability to retain verbal information. First he asked for a show of hands from everyone diagnosed with ADHD or entertaining the possibility. The entire group of about 25 raised their hands. Then he reeled off a short bio (note: details have been changed):

“My name is John Michael Smith. I was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Later, I attended medical school at the University of California, Los Angeles. Now I live in Palo Alto.”

“Okay now,” he said. “Who can tell me my middle name?” Two raised hands.

“Who can tell me where I attended medical school?” One hand.

"Where do I live?" Six hands shot up. (It might have helped that the meeting was held in Palo Alto.)

“Who can tell me where I grew up?” Two hands raised, tentatively.

"So you see," he concluded, "when you think you are having communication problems, what you are possibly having is a hard time remembering details from one sentence to the next."

CAPD and ADHD: One and the Same?

Given all this, I can't figure out why these challenges are commonly identified in children as CAPD yet when it comes to adults with undiagnosed ADHD, the challenges are typically called ….
what exactly? Passive-aggression? Obstreperousness? Oppositionality? Sometimes. Until you grow old enough to be evaluated for hearing problems and fitted with a hearing aid. Trouble is, your "hearing" might be just fine. 
      Read these characteristics of CAPD (from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders), and notice how similar it is to ADHD (some experts doubt that these commonly co-existing conditions are, in fact, separate entities):
• Has trouble paying attention to and remembering information presented orally
• Has problems carrying out multi-step directions
• Has poor listening skills
• Needs more time to process information
• Has low academic performance
• Has behavior problems
• Has language difficulty (e.g., they confuse syllable sequences and have problems developing vocabulary and understanding language)
• Has difficulty with reading, comprehension, spelling, and vocabulary.
       In this short blog post, I've touched only the surface of how, when it comes to ADHD, hearing well doesn't always mean being able to listen well.

Listen Up! Sound Strategies for Clashing Couples

Some couples find these practical strategies useful.

For Partners of Adults with ADHD:

  • Turn off distracting noises before speaking (TV, radio, computer, etc.).
  • Touch your partner and make eye contact before speaking, allowing sufficient transition time.
  • Ask your partner to repeat what you’ve said, to make sure it was understood.
  • Speak simply and concisely without a lot of superfluous background detail, whys and wherefores, etc. (granted, this is not always possible for more complex communications).
  • Don’t discuss important matters “on the fly”—while your partner is involved in another necessary activity or as you’re going out the door.

For Couples:

  • For some topics, e-mail works best. The ADHD Partner has time to focus, reread, and mull over a response without feeling the pressure of needing to respond immediately.
  • Take a walk together when discussing important issues (exercise activates blood flow to the brain and alleviates stress).
  • Use a whiteboard at a household “command center” to target 1-3 important messages, simply stated.

For Adults with ADHD:

  • Recognize what good listening means for your partner: that you value his or her opinions and care about your partner.
  • Listen first. Respond second. Exert the extra mental effort to really listen. Set aside what you were just doing, what you will do when your partner finishes, your response, or unrelated topics. If you need more time to shape a response, ask for it.
  • Use relaxation techniques to clear your mind before having important conversations.

When Symptoms are Moderate to Severe

Sometimes, strategies are simply not enough; medication might prove most helpful in kicking the "transmission signal" up a few notches. Consider this before-and-after story:

"My boyfriend has been taking a neurostimulant medication for about a month now, and the biggest difference we've noticed is that we are able to discuss things without the big explosions of emotion. He's much less dramatic in his expressions of self-hatred or anger, which we've learned came about mostly because he was losing focus and subconsciously boosting adrenaline to re-capture focus, plus feeling badly that he couldn't keep paying attention. He used to lose the thread so quickly and then automatically go off on a more stimulating (to him) tangent, leaving me in the dust and getting angry if I tried to bring him back to the subject.

"Mind you, previously our discussions wouldn't be particularly demanding of most people; they were normal discussions that couples have every day.
Now he's no longer stomping out of the room mid-conversation to sulk. No more 'misremembering' later the agreements we made. No more going completely silent while ignoring what I'm saying because he's busy obsessing about how he's such a terrible person and how he's letting me down."


Can you relate? Can you share some strategies? We'd love to know about them! Please share your comments below.


Note: Psychologist Arthur Robin and I will present a workshop on October 10, called,
"Relationships: How To Succeed in Marriage with AD/HD" as part of the Annual CHADD conference taking place in Cleveland in October. I hope to see you there!

And, to the kind 80-year-old gentleman who introduced himself to me at the CHADD Anaheim conference as a fan of this blog, thank you so much! Wonderful to meet you! And please keep passing along Adult ADHD awareness to your friends. :-)



  1. Your postings are very helpful, and for me, "right on," (as we used to say in the previous century.) Thank you for your insight and clear communication.

  2. Gina your blog is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!!!! I am signed in ubder my son's name ~ sorry will fix that later!

    Congrats!! You are so smart!! I LOVE it!!

  3. I can relate. My son often misinterprets words. Before my diagnosis, my behavior was "explained" by psychologists as neurotic and dysfunctional - rather than an aspect of how my brain works. There is a difference. I can't learn well listening to lectures in classrooms. Instead I focus on what I can see: I read, look at pictures, and physically try to do things to see how they work.

  4. I just found your blog today thanks to the CHADD email I received. Spot On!! We have had issues with my 7 year old for years. He has now been on meds for about 2months but the miscommunication story tickles me. Just today we were talking about Baptism and he said "your back tires"...I slowed down my speech but he could not grasp why God wanted anything to do with your back tires. LOL...he brings me joy in so many ways. Thanks again!

  5. Gina, my 12-year-old daughter was recently thoroughly tested by a psychologist. He did not believe that she displayed the distractibility typical of ADHD, she doesn't have behavior issues, she hasn't shown signs of low academic problems, she doesn't seem to have the described language difficulties, and she is a good listener. She does, however, exhibit the other characteristics listed and I have also had her hearing tested for the same reason as described in your example. Is it possible for an adolescent to have CAPD without ADHD? The problems that she is having just seemed to be apparent about 1 year ago.

  6. Important to note that people who have these auditory symptoms are often exhausted by the effort of listening. Escape from "noise" can take many deceptive forms. Some people enjoy playing interactive computer games because they can socialize successfully without having to listen. (Many teens with AD/HD have been accused of fixating on these games when really it's their only comfortable medium for social contact). Others may vanish from the family scene in the evening because they need silence. Large gatherings like family holidays or parties can precipitate meltdowns, self-medicating, avoidance (like two hour trips to pick up ice or watching football when everyone else is socializing). One of my clients had a dramatic response to medication and was amazed: "I can finally follow a conversation at the dinner table!". It was a great example of how medication can help your real personality come forth. This woman, who for her whole life had appeared timid and reserved, found that she had a great sense of humor when her timing was reset and she began to enjoy being the center of attention!

  7. Gina, this is a great site and I'm so happy to have found it! Actually, it found me! Today, I finally became a member of CHADD at , the website for children and adults with ADD. A few hours after joining, I received an email with this blog! I have to say that finding your blog has already made the membership fee more than worth it! This most recent posting will be very helpful in reinforcing what I have been trying to explain to my husband about my confirmed and his undiagnosed ADD/ADHD. The other postings are very interesting as well. I am so relieved to find that I am not alone in experiencing many of these same challenges, after just recently being diagnosed as an adult. I think it will also be helpful to my husband and others who are afraid to acknowledge that they are affected by ADD/ADHD because they mistakenly believe that it only affects kids or because they are afraid of being labeled as having "a problem". It's wonderful to have someone taking the time to share this information and these stories in away that is intelligent, unintimidating, and so easily accessible. It's perfect for those of us who don't have the time or attention span to read a book about it and also reassuring and helpful to read the comments to know we aren't alone in our experiences with ADD/ADHD. I am already looking forward to your next posting! Thank you!

  8. Nancy with ADHD spouseSeptember 1, 2009 at 9:24 PM

    When I read "it can cause a person to misinterpret content and even tone of voice" I said "Thank you, thank you God!" I have been questioning how I talk to my husband, thinking I must be unconsciously using a tone of voice that is opposite to my feelings. He won't take medication for ADHD because he says that it is bad for his high blood pressure. He used to take it, and our communication was so much better.

  9. Gina

    Thanks for this important post. I'm going to have my wife read so that she better understands what I'm going through.


  10. Gina,

    As you know already, my story. I can show example of the truth about location in the brain of,as described by my Neurosurgean after MRI.

    Abstract incoming speech(the best way to explain to me)is one a symptoms of the damage shown on the largest leison on MRI. Exactly where the arrow on the brain picture above is pointing.


  11. Gina - So right on and so helpful. Can't wait to hear you speak in Chester County PA in two weeks!

  12. Gina, thank you so much. This entry is particularly relevant - I very much identify with the guy in your opening scenario: I've been seriously considering asking my doctor if I can get a hearing test because I constantly struggle with "hearing" correctly what people are saying. I'm constantly asking my daughter and partner to repeat themselves. I don't notice that I misinterpret tone or expression, but jumbled sounds that I just can't understand are a serious impediment to my communicating with others! Thank you for helping me see there might be another way to understand and make sense of my problems. I just got diagnosed with ADHD in February of this year. Your blog really helps me. Thanks again.

  13. This is funny...this sounds like my allegedly non-ADHD partner (I am the ADHDer in the relationship).

    Me, I was diagnosed as an adult and before diagnosis had already adapted to using written communication for anything important, and writing down instructions from employers in order to eliminate confusion...seems I might have "coped" my way around this without even realizing I was having a problem ;) Or this just isn't me...but it's soooo my sig other that I'm laughing right now...he gets confused, I get impatient, then pissed because I think he's trying to be an ass, then he gets totally flustered because he's stressed and really has no idea what I'm talking about...finally one of us will go "wait a minute...this conversation just went allll wrong..." and we work to get it back on track.

  14. My wife and i had a long talk about my poor listening this morning. How timely.

  15. Really appreciate this blog; I see myself in almost every symptom description. Have an ADD diagnosis but unfortunately, the meds I've tried don't do much to improve the symptoms but do make me irritable. So, I just explain to close friends what's probably going on and muddle along...
    At least this blog provides some comfort that my struggle isn't unique.

  16. You have described my social and communicative difficulties exactly. I have ADHD but also have CAPD- not independently diagnosed but a neuropsychologist/ psychotherapist I had been seeing for years, knowing I had ADHD thought so. But I understood it was in addition to ADHD , I assume from your article that one can have CAPD without ADHD. What relatively lucky people they are!
    I wonder if the condition makes it hard to communicate effectively (words AND tone of voice). I've often been misinterpreted, even as a young child, as being angry when nothing could be farther from the truth. Maybe a child
    just learning to communicate copies what she sees as communication from
    family members with CAPD? If so, that would double the difficulty.
    I want to say I identify very strongly with the self- blamers mentioned above.

  17. Gina,

    I was just reading last night about "Traveling Companion" in your book. So many subjects about ADD in there. I am learning and seeing the "Big Picture", 1 picture at a time. I see some things I wish I could have seen long ago.

    I'm almost afraid to show these things to my wife,or I should say..let her know I can see what see already knows. It can be hard to see the truth about myself sometimes. No pain, No gain. You tell it like it is,and I have become better...1 picture at a time. This blog and your book are great!!



  19. Wow - that was right on. I too had a hearing test and all was fine. The audiologist actually told me to listen to my wife. I do listen but find it VERY hard even with ADD meds. The suggestions are great to help. She likes to talk in the car but I find it even more difficult to listen and respond when driving.


  20. Excellent article! More information like this needs to get out to people with ADHD. Our son has CAPD. It was thought he had ADHD as well, but as we've done therapies to deal with his vestibular issues his hyperactivity has reduced dramatically. We've put in a lot of accommodations in the classroom to help with CAPD, and his attention/fidgiting issues have nearly dissapeared. It's been an effort, but well worth the result. Schools don't consider CAPD a learning disability, which is really unfortunate. I think many kids who are considered "behavior problems" may have this type of issue, and the schools need to do some research on it. Our son is the first kid in his school to ever have CAPD, and I can hardly describe the trouble we went through to get them to listen about it. Particularly love the diagram of the auditory nervous system. I'm going to link to your blog from the CAPD site I built. Thanks!

  21. Thanks for posting this! My husband actually asked me to get my hearing checked. He was convinced that I had soemthing wrong with my hearing or was intentionally ignoring him. Needless to say my hearing is perfect and I certainly never intend to just ignore what he is saying. Texting on our cell phones has helped our communication trememdously. I don't feel as angry and misunderstood.

  22. I need to learn more about both of these conditions. I have a husband and daughter that suffer from both and it is driving me crazy. I am at my wits end.
    I agree with texting helps make communication much easier. My daughter and I communicate wonderfully but my husband continues to be my biggest challenge. I am exhausted!

  23. Your comment"I am exhausted!" I'm an ADD husband. When I read that, a while back, and when my wife got home from work(she usealy goes to our room and reads before going to sleep), I told her about your comment.

    I asked her if she could relate to you, and does my rambling way of talking exhaust her. She just looked at me and smiled, and said:"Yep, your learning." Then I went on to say some things about how Gina's book helping me, and before ya know it, I had already gone to a different topic, that I thought was very interesting about the way the brain works(or something like that probably).

    Then she raised her hand like a student in a class-room, trying to get the attn. of the teacher. I stopped talking, and looked at her, and she could tell by my facial expresion, that I realized what I was doing.

    We both started laughing, I gave her a kiss goodnight, and went in the living room, and started reading Gina's book, from the point where I had one the cool bookmark's that it came with.

    That book is not just for non ADD'er for sure. It's for me.

  24. Thanks to everyone for your comments. I learn so much from you, and appreciate the interchange.


  25. I was diagnosed with ADD at 17, but got by without medication. I had my hearing tested in college because I was contantly misunderstanding my friends, but my hearing was fine. I had it tested again 10 years later because my husband was so frustrated with me misunderstanding him or flat out hearing gibberish instead of whatever he was trying to say. My hearing is still fine and we have been fighting about this issue for months. He says I just don't listen hard enough. The opening paragraph of this article sums it up perfectly. Too bad a suggested method of communication for couples with CAPD is email or a whiteboard, as my husband is dyslexic and hates to read/write if at all possible. The universe has a sense of humor.

  26. Sounds like YOU have a sense of humor, too, two bits. :-)

    Somehow I think "trying harder" to listen is like "trying harder" to see -- more easily suggested than done. :-)


  27. I came across your blog last week while trying to find help with coping with my boyfriend's ADHD. It has helped so much already and I'm learning more and more everyday how to renew my patience, which I thought had been completely exhausted long ago. I'm still struggling every day, and afraid of how to get him help, but your entries are helping me start walking down that path. Hopefully, soon enough he'll be walking beside me. I'm at my wit's end, so I hope learning more will help our relationship. I love him so much.

  28. I wish I had found this long ago! I was diagnosed with ADD after my wife left me and I was seeing a marriage councilor. The councilor saw many signs and asked me to get screened for ADD. My wife refused to go. Many issues I have discovered were affected by my ADD. I always am saying what but my hearing tests fine. She would want to talk about our relationship. I wanted to help it, but came up with no words. She felt I didn't care. That is not true. She still means the world to me (and we've been apart for about 3 years).

    I am still learning about my ADD and how to cope better. I have been scared to try meds, but am seeing my doc next month about trying them. Its to late for my marriage, but I hope it helps with other parts of my life.

    I hope this article (and blog) can help others save their marriages and help non ADDers understand.

  29. Anonymous(1) -- I'm glad to hear you've found your second wind. Sometimes the "light at the end of the tunnel" is learning about ADHD and how it can manifest in adults.

    .When you can finally stop tying yourself in knots through fruitless attempts to "manage the unmanageable," when you finally have solid answers, it can make all the difference in the world.
    Good luck!

  30. Anonymous (2)

    I'm sorry to hear that your wife wouldn't support you in being evaluated for ADHD. I'm constantly amazed by the people who refuse to consider new ideas, even if they could vastly improve their lives.

    Maybe your wife was depressed and not thinking clearly. Maybe she was just weary from riding the ADHD Roller Coaster. ;-) Maybe she just wasn't very intellectually curious or even empathic.

    As for you and your fear of medication, I can understand people being cautious about approaching medication that can affect one's brain -- or any medication. That is the sensible thing to do. Especially given all the fearmongering on the Internet about medications AND given the many true reports of bad side effects, etc.

    The fact is, for some people medication can be truly life-enhancing. But it's not the "quick fix" the propagandists criticize it as. It requires educating yourself before you even select a prescribing physician, so you select wisely. And it also requires being an advocate for yourself.

    Keep educating yourself!


  31. I just can say WOW, all this was so new for me. I think a few days after we started dating my Boyfrind told me that he "HAD" ADHD when he was a kid, but the way how he is akting sometimes made me wonder, so i did some research and i found a lot about ADHD and Adulds, and now everything makes so much sense to me. I tried so hard to understand him, but he got me frustraded so many times. He explained why somethings happend, but it didn't made any sense to me because i thought "Why is it so hard to listen?" or "I just told you, how can you forget so fast?" .. the list goes on and on. But now i have a big smile on my face and i know it is nothing against me i just have to change some things and we will find a way to get through this, without blaming and fights. Thank you so much

  32. AN UPDATE:

    The confusion between auditory-processing disorder, or APD, (often diagnosed in children with ADHD) and ADHD has long been a pet peeve of mine.

    Many people simply do not realize how even very educated specialists have immense blind spots. And, to me, APD vs. ADHD seemed a gaping blind spot.

    I carefully studied all the research. And, even though I don't have a PhD, I do know how to read and process information.

    Recently, a question was posed about APD on Medpedia, a website where the public can ask questions on sometimes complex medical topics. Selected contributors, including those with MDs, PhDs. and other advanced degrees, answer those questions. Based on a points system, contributors are ranked.

    Despite having no advanced degree, I am currently the #2 contributor. I try to do on MedPedia what I've done in the ADHD community for years -- synthesize sometimes-complex information and bridge disciplinary gaps in terms most laypeople can understand.

    I was a little nervous about my answer on APD, just waiting for a hearing specialist to take issue and ask, "who are you? You have no medical degree!" lol!

    Then today I opened the current issue of The ADHD Report and found a in-depth discussion of APD vs ADHD, with essentially the same conclusion I'd drawn.

    You can read about it on Medpedia:

  33. This article was very helpful.

  34. Wow...this blog has truly given me hope. My husband and I cannot communicate. I mean that sincerely. Over the past few years, our communication has gone from bad to worse, and I was convinced he has some hearing loss (he was diagnosed with a slight amount when he left the Navy 15 yrs ago). But, he denies it, although all of us notice how he talks louder than anyone else, claps louder (and embarrasses the kids in doing so), has the TV up louder then the rest of us, and can never seem to hear any of us when we speak to him the first time. When we have a discussion, and it starts to get a bit lively, (which I am used to from my family), he pulls back and says we are "arguing". If that's arguing, I'd hate to see what a REAL fight looked like to him! I am always accusing him of being passive-aggressive, of being arrogant, and of doing something that literally makes me go insane...."telling me how I feel", rather than letting me explain and then repeating back with reflective listening. He does it, but it's usually all wrong. And then he won't let me tell him what he got wrong! Suddenly, he has to go to a meeting (if on phone), or he needs to change clothes, or eat, or use bathroom, or a million other things to escape. It makes me literally want to slug him. So, this CAPD thing was like a lightning bolt. But, he's in total denial about being AD/HD, in a mid-life crisis, being passive-aggressive and having an innate disrespect (superiority complex) about women, and now if I bring up CAPD...oh boy. I love the guy, but it's getting very hard to live with him. Help?

  35. Yay! This site couldn't have come at a better time. I've recently been diagnosed with adhd and was convinced my partner of 13yrs had it too, after coming to the conclusion like attracts like, because communication has always been an issue, especially when it comes to hearing what he's misinterpreted as being the issue, there's always some other thing that has to be seen to (our relationship never taking priority) which in turn makes me feel unimportant or a problem. Extremely frustrating as he has heaps of great qualities that outweigh the bad. I have always suspected something up with him but I too love my man very much and finding sites like this are most reassuring and enable me to have faith! Thanks for sharing people cj

  36. Thanks for visiting, CJ. The comments throughout the blog are a wealth of information and shared experience.


  37. I can really relate to this post. I've been diagnosed with ADHD since 5th grade. I'm 24 now. This is probably the source of about half of my stress surrounding my ADHD. I've always been shy, though I've gotten better, and always had a small number of friends. I always want to pause to think for longer to answer questions, but because it would make an awkward silence in the conversation, i just blurt out whatever comes to mind. Which half the time sounds dumb and I quickly think of something better I could have said a few seconds later.

    I've recently discovered I don't like interacting with quick witted or sarcastic people. (those blasted quick thinkers :)There is one older guy at work, who is almost constantly sarcastic, which i always have difficulty responding (while i process the joke and my response at the same time). And while I'm bumbling for a response he often says 'oh never mind Mo' and brushes me aside for not laughing at his (most of the time dumb ) joke anyways. This and other communication is worst for me with strangers. With friends they mostly know i have ADHD and I can feel comfortable in taking a little extra time in thinking of what i want to say and caring a little less whether I mess it up.

    Just found this blog today, love it. Thanks Gina -Mo

  38. Hi Mo,

    I'm glad you liked this piece. It's one that is close to my heart, as I see people who resemble your self-description in our local Adult ADHD group.

    I always try to balance the participation in the group, so that the "quick thinkers" don't dominate the discussion and others get a chance. But I've also learn not to surprise people! It brings back memories of being called on in class and panicking over an answer.

    It's a delicate path I try to walk. :-)

    You know, if that sarcastic guy in your office can't read social cues well enough to see that you have trouble responding quickly, then maybe he has issues. Or, maybe you could just have a standard funny comeback that you always use.....e.g. "It's like the joke about the roof...over my head." ;-)

    There's nothing wrong with being a careful communicator. Most of us have room for improvement in that area. It seems that most discourse now happens so quickly, people aren't really thinking about what they're saying. Many snap judgments made. Wrong ones.

    take care,

  39. your link for the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, doesn't work anymore

  40. Thank you for alerting me to the fact that the NID has taken down the page on Auditory Processing Disorder.

    Because the NID is part of the National Institutes of Health, I find it strange that there is no longer an entry on APD. Maybe NIH has decided APD is no longer a separate condition, independent of ADHD. As I have theorized.

  41. Now I understand more...
    I have been looking for this exact explanation of why this happens to me. I'm 40 and just found out 4 months ago about the ADHD. This particular impairment has caused me much distress and I'm glad to know more about it. Among other things it had a lot to do with why my wife and I split 4 years ago.

    Now it's my girlfriend and I....she also has ADHD but we are impaired in different ways so it's even that more frustrating not to piss each other off ;-)

    Just two nights ago she asked how she can get her point(s) across. She said " I can tell you what I want/mean 500 times and you don't get it. Not even the 501st time." Thankfully, we are at a point of trying to figure this all out and she asked HOW I might understand. I told her she has to write it down and give me time to read, reread and ask for clarification. That's why this blog post is so timely....

    I MUCH prefer communicating with email and texts. It gives me time to understand (to the best of my ability) and then have time to carefully craft a proper response. This has improved vastly with medication. Even in written format, I use to just fire off the first thing that came to my mind. Which usually was some frustrated 'mean' response that did nothing to improve the conversation.

    The medication (she is on it too) also made me realize it's important 'when' we have the 'deeper' conversations. They always ended up being later at night when we were both unmedicated. Throw some beer in the mix and poof! It would all come out terrible for me. It's like a flowery language that I'm supposed to 'get' but just can't seem to understand. I 'think' I do but most of the time I'm totally wrong. I try to hyperfocus but I think the extra concentration just makes it worse. I'm often doing the deer in the headlights thing. I'm trying to process and respond in a timely manner but it comes across as looking like I'm not there or worse that I don't care. Before the medication and before the diagnosis that would be the point where I would get frustrated and angry. I would usually throw a fit and say something about how worthless and stupid I am. Half the time I would just leave (we don't live together). No matter how late it was, I'd get out.

    I've been searching for something that explains it and this post couldn't do a better job. I was looking for something that clarified why I couldn't remember, or maybe it was a comprehension thing or maybe it was her use of language. I just couldn't understand why we have so much trouble.
    I sent her a text a few weeks ago (yes text) ;-) saying that I think we should have the 'deep' discussions during the day. We've been better about that but nightime is the more natural and convenient time (kids and all). Before reading this post I was trying to think of a good 'password' that I could throw out in the conversation to denote the poor timing. Perhaps a phrase like "I'm unmedicated" or "its not the best time" or "this is a daytime discussion". Oh, I like the last one! ;-)

    1. Hey Scott,

      Yes, watch for those late-night discussions. Sometimes that's an unconscious way to "wind up" the brain so the person with ADHD can focus on going to sleep.

      Sometimes, a low dose of stimulant at bedtime can better fulfill that need and forestall unnecessary arguments.

      And yes, I figured out even before my husband's diagnosis that e-mail worked best on some communications. He had more time to read it and process instead of seeing my standing right there seemingly wanting an answer NOW.

      Thanks so much for reading and finding something useful on my blogs. :-)


  42. ***looks like I went past the character limit so this is the rest of the post***

    I can't remember where I read this (maybe your book Gina)but there was some link with ADHD and ear infections/hearing issues during youth. At least I think I read that....
    I had tubes in my ears three different times. My mom kept the writeups the doctor's did on my yearly visits. The one from my 4yr visit is interesting because it says 'can't hear in right ear. watch speech'
    My mom said I had a hard time with talking for quite a long time but once I did start talking they couldn't shut me up. I also had a terrible time learning to read. I remember the teacher having to take me out in the hall (one on one) with flash cards for the words 'the' 'can' etc. The simple basics. Well language arts was always a struggle, especially the comprehension stuff. Looking at my son's comprehension test (read a story and answer questions) still gives me the overwhelming feeling of how hard that is. I 'fought' with every single English teacher I had. They were always doing things that were unfair, at least in my mind.
    So....after all that, I'd like to thank you for this information. Now I have to go reread it a few times ;-)
    I also have to share it with my girlfriend so hopefully it will help with our relationship.
    Thanks Gina!

    1. Hey Scott,

      I wonder if your trouble "hearing" led your mom to bring you to the doc's office. In other words, the "infection" wasn't the problem; it was ADHD-related auditory issues. I bet this happens to lots of kids.

      I don't have any data, but it also seems that kids with ADHD are more allergy prone. So, you might actually have had more ear infections. But it still wasn't the core issue.

      Your son is lucky that you understand his challenges so well.

  43. This explains a lot - I knew my husband (recently diagnosed with ADHD and newly medicated) often remarks, when I ask or state something, for me to repeat it. Then he says, "You know what I heard?" and will say something that sounds as if he heard my words underwater! I thought he had hearing problems, now I'm convinced it's the ADHD. Not easy to live with this.


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