Quite a few people don't understand that ADD isn't just forgetting a few events from time to time. Memory issues are persistent and pervasive. These issues affect every part of our adult lives from signing permission slips for kids, to checking homework, to deadlines at work. It isn't an occasional, "Oops! ADD moment!" It is certainly daily, happening most of the time at least hourly, and sometimes forgetting minute-by-minute.
Why do we forget things with greater frequency than our peers? The pre-frontal cortex, which is different from the norm in folks with ADD, determines how well you do many tasks. Dr. Philip Shaw at the National Human Genome Research Institute studied why some people with Attention Deficit Disorder seemed to grow out of the negative symptoms of ADD. He found that the pre-frontal cortex of people with ADD is thinner than the people who don't express the symptoms of ADD.
The pre-frontal cortex is located at the front of the brain. It is behind the forehead. This part of the brain controls behavior, emotional responses, impulsivity, and inhibition. Memories are formed, in part because of the pre-frontal cortex. Executive function, which controls many higher-level activities, is one of the main duties of the pre-frontal cortex. This is what helps us organize time, space, and tasks while monitoring and evaluating personal performance while completing chores.
With a thin pre-frontal cortex, shifting attention from one activity to another is difficult. Since memory is impaired, our brains don't always store information where it is easily retrieved. Memory formation can also be a problem when the executive function hinders organizing time, space, and tasks.
How do you react when you have an ADD moment? A lot of us feel shame or embarrassment. We try to hide our little moments like the one that I had today. This leads to stress and anxiety , which negatively impacts memory and increases attentional problems. I feel like it is a lot easier to acknowledge the moment and move past it.
Today, I was teaching a craft class. We were using shaving cream and food coloring to marbleize some cardboard jewelry boxes and cardstock for making get well cards. Each student had three boxes to complete, followed by a card. We were almost out of time, and I was trying to make sure that all of the students got to complete their work. My student finished three lovely boxes, then I threw the parchment paper with the shaving cream away, in order to get ready for another student. My student gave me a funny look. Then, it hit me. I threw her design materials away. I folded the paper in half and tossed it into the trash. We looked at each other and I laughed, "Oh, my! I just had a moment—an ADD moment!" We all laughed. I retrieved the paper from the trash, straightened it out, and we determined that it was still usable. She made her card, and we smiled at each other. The ADD moment was saved, nobody was embarrassed, and life went on.
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