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Why this ADHD Mom Loves Gadgets

July 3, 2013

Star Trek ADHDThere was an article this week on Mashable that asked the question “Are Kids with Gadgets More Likely to Have ADHD?” and in my world, the answer is a most emphatic yes!  But unlike the article, I do not believe my children have ADHD because of their gadgets just like I don’t believe that my husband and I, who both have ADHD as well, got it from the gadgets of our time – the walkman, the atari, and the original remote control.

While there is definitely a case to be made that our society seems to be developing an attention span problem, that the diagnosis rate of ADHD is going up, and that both of these are happening in the age of gadgetry, I don’t think you can lump them all together and say there are cause and effect relationships amongst and across them.

Our societal attention span is decreasing because we have 7,000 television channels, a library worth of books, music libraries containing 10,000 songs, and well, every piece of information available on the planet that isn’t classified by some government available at the stoke of a key or the swipe of a finger.  I imagine it was a lot easier to pay attention for longer periods of time when the whole family had a single candle and the bible to keep them busy when the sun went down.   It wasn’t so long ago that you had to go to the library to get a book, you had to use an encyclopedia to do your homework, your music collection was limited to the amount of physical space in your house allocated to it, and you always cringed when you heard the President was on TV because there were only 3 channels and he was on all of them.

If there is any root cause of our societal attention problems, access to information is more to blame than the gadgets we use to access it.

The diagnosis rate for ADHD is increasing but I will always believe that is a good thing.  For starters, ADHD is a first world problem, meaning, you have to have solved most of the big problems like having enough to eat, clean water to drink, and a safe place to sleep before you care whether or not your child can sit still for 7 hours in school.  Second, I believe the reason the diagnosis rate is going up is that we understand the condition better and kids who would have previously fallen through the cracks don’t anymore.

When you consider the statistics, especially when ADHD is undiagnosed into adulthood, I would rather have 1 in 5 kids be misdiagnosed as having it than have 1 in 5 who has it not get diagnosed at all.

So, that leaves the gadgets.  The article on Mashable does a decent job of explaining how video games and the ADHD brain work together to make it possible for a family like mine to actually have dinner in a public place.  Don’t get me wrong, my children are actually very well behaved, even when they aren’t medicated and especially when you consider they both have ADHD.  But there are things that gadgets give people like us that people who are not like us will never understand.  So, dopamine and intermittent rewards aside, here is the number 1 reason why I am thankful us ADHDers have gadgets and why you should be thankful for it too.

When you live 4 seconds at a time, it takes FOREVER for your waitress to bring dinner.

 When you have one hungry child who is incapable of patiently waiting for something that feels like it will never happen, you can likely use conversation and other tactics to keep the peace.  When you have two hungry children, well, sometimes playing word games like the Pokemon Alphabet game or giving them math problems to solve in their head works as long as the waitress is fast.  But when you have four hungry people with no patience and nothing to occupy their 100mph brains –  20 minutes is an eternity.

If it’s a good day, we may be able to keep ourselves busy joking around with each other, passionately discussing physics, or planning for the zombie apocalypse.  But even on a good day, odds are that we will be too loud and boisterous not to distract you from your dinner.

If it is not a good day, well, let’s just say there is a reason the family’s favorite place to eat is the Red Apple  Buffet where no one ever has to wait for their food to arrive.

Turning Leaf Life Coaching offers coaching for ADHD and Life Transitions worldwide over the phone and in person throughout NH, ME, MA, and VT.  For more information, go to www.turningleafcoaching.com.

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