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ADHD and the Curse of Time

One of the more problematic challenges that individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have relates to the concept of time. According to Barkley (2016), time is a significant challenge across individuals with ADHD. We see it very often here in the KLASS Center Clinic with the kids and adults we work with who have ADHD.

More specifically, the concept of future is difficult. Individuals with ADHD tend to be very much present oriented; that is, in the “right now”, and they move moment to moment rather than having a future orientation.

On the surface, living in the present is a preferred option; in fact, the whole mindfulness movement is an attempt to get people to live in the present, but in a world where deadlines, meetings, and schedules predominate, living in the moment too much can be a problem. Individuals who don’t have ADHD, on the other hand (that’s the vast majority of the population), tend to live either in the future (which can be anxiety provoking), or in the past (which can sometimes depress mood), so the whole idea of mindfulness is to get folks to spend more time in the present. Folks with ADHD are perpetually in the present.

Time estimation is a challenge; that is, how long do things take. They continually underestimate time.

Timeliness is a challenge; we see that in folks being habitually late, or missing appointments completely.

If you give a child with ADHD directions for completing a task in the future; in 10 minutes let’s say, the likelihood of that task getting completed on time, if at all, is pretty low. If you’re trying to use a behavior management plan that incorporates rewards for behavior, and the time to reward is set out too far, the plan becomes ineffective. The need for consequences, both positive and negative, is much more acute; feedback is required very soon after behaviors for there to be much of an effect.

For more information on ADHD evaluations and/or non-medical interventions, please contact us or 865-974-6177.