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Wednesday
Sep072011

A.D.D. Empower Community

Whether early on at boarding school, later in college, or even after college as an adult, we will all have a roommate. And being ADHD, we’re a little different to live with. As in all aspects of living with ADHD, the key to a successful roommate relationship is education, education, education.

Communicating the unique challenges that ADHD poses is the first, key step in starting a happy living arrangement. We may not always remember to take out the trash, but we’ll be the first to know about a new concert coming to town or a new, hot band. We may have to be reminded to clean up after ourselves but since we’re such out of the box thinkers, we’ll find the most interesting friends.

Our ADHD doesn’t make us a bad roommate. We just need to educate the people who we live with so each person can bring their skills to the table.

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It’s that time of year— back to school! And for many of us going off to college for the first time, it means the start of living with someone else. For those of us with ADHD, there are unique challenges and opportunities to living with someone else. We have to remember, of course, to educate our roommate up-front about our challenges and differences. We have to remind them to remind us to do important things. But most of all, we need to remember that the dorm room is a communal space.

We may feel bored by hanging out with the same people all the time but our roommate may not like a constant parade of new faces. We have to remember— hard as it may be— to stick to a daily schedule and to communicate where we’re going and when we expect to be back.

So no, we don’t have become boring like the rest of the world just because we’re living with someone else; we just have to be considerate, and communicate— and always educate, educate, educate.

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In the classroom, it can feel like we ADHDers are always getting picked on. Once a trouble maker, always a troublemaker— we’re written off, and we come with a reputation of acting out. Teachers may think that we’re “lazy, crazy, stupid, and manipulative” but we’re not— we just have trouble generalizing.

This is one of the least talked about but most important aspects of living with ADHD. When we’re told to “stop” doing something, we do, but only in that instant. We fail to see that this “stop” applies to all situations. Since our minds are cycling so fast, we forget that all situations are all connected; they’re not all isolated incidents like we see them.

The best solution to this problem is, of course, to educate, educate, educate the teachers. Though that may seem silly— teachers are supposed to be educating you, not the other way around— we have something that they could learn too. Explain that you’re not trying to ignore their rules; you just can’t help it. It’s the way your brain is wired!

Friends can help too. Developing a safe word like, say, marshmallow or orangutan helps remind you when to stop. 

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