Conversations and Attention Deficit Disorder
Attention Deficit Disorder is a biologically based brain difference. Recent research has indicated that there are differences in the architecture, function, and chemistry of the brains of people who have ADD/ADHD. Attention Deficit Disorder appears to have a genetic link. Many parents get a diagnosis after their children are diagnosed. Is this one of the perks of parenthood? What are the effects that ADD has for people who have these brain differences? It depends. Attention Deficit Disorder symptoms vary from person to person. However, the symptoms may include impulsivity and an inability to pay attention to their surroundings. These characteristics could lead to the person with ADD irritating or alienating their conversational partners. How does this happen?
Have you ever been in a group conversation where one person keeps interrupting everybody else? Were his comments just slightly off-topic? Was he talking on and on in an excited tone? This is one conversational style that most people with Attention Deficit Disorder seem to have mastered! Having somebody cut you off in mid-sentence to excitedly interject some pressing comment is annoying, at best.
A group is hanging around conversing about a topic of interest. Suddenly, a new person shows up and jumps into the conversation. They have no interest in the current conversation, and they quickly start talking at length about another subject that has nothing to do with what the group has been discussing. Although the group tries to move the conversation back to the original topic, the person with ADD/ADHD persists in rambling on-and-on about their topic. Often, the group will just dissolve and re-form at a different location. Sometimes, a member of the original group will say something designed to make the person with ADD/ADHD stop talking. It is likely that this comment will be hurtful to the person with Attention Deficit Disorder.
Another conversational difficulty that a person has with ADD is inattention. They will try to stay with the topic, but will lose track of where the conversation has been and the conversational clues that show where it is going. Other times, the person with ADD/ADHD loses their train of thought and draws a blank when trying to respond to the conversation. Inattention makes trying to stay within conversational parameters difficult for the speaker. It is bothersome and frustrating for the other members of the conversation, too. How can people with ADD express themselves in a group conversation without annoying their conversational partners? If you or somebody you know has ADD and conversational difficulties, what can you do to improve your interactions?
Better Conversations with Attention Deficit Disorder
*Be actively aware of your personal conversational style. Examine your interactions with others for a week. Pay attention to the way people react to you in conversations.
*Walk up to a group conversation, but stand and listen, rather than joining in immediately.
*Train yourself to wait and listen to the conversation before you comment.
*If you have a topic that you want to discuss, find a natural pause in the conversation. Then, bring up the subject that you want to chat about. Start the conversation, but let others have their turn, too. Listen to what people in the group have to say.
Interrupting conversations is a definite turn-off. It can be perceived as rudeness, when in fact, it is a person who has ADD/ADHD and difficulty with impulsivity. Show enthusiasm, but slow down and take the time to enter a conversation appropriately. People with Attention Deficit Disorder have wonderful ideas to give to their world. Conversations can be vehicles to carry these ideas beyond the home front. Here’s one last tip to help keep a conversation on track. If you have ADD/ADHD and you are talking with friends in a restaurant, sit where the TV won’t distract you!
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