View Full Version : How do you experience church with ADD/ADHD?


ChrisKat
01-29-14, 02:15 PM
Hello, all! I am hoping to gain some insight on this topic. My wife has diagnosed ADD and I am currently on track to go to seminary. Although we've talked about it together, I would like some further insight into what really works for you and what does not work at all for you when you go to church (if you do). Also, what would benefit you most as someone with ADD that churches in your experience currently do not provide?

I may or may not publish something on this topic down the road, but I do plan to at least try to raise awareness with pastors and congregations. If you share something, do so knowing that I may decide to share your thoughts beyond this forum, but I will not use any identifying information (not even a user name). Thanks for whatever ideas and insight you can throw my way. Peace!

bfuddled
01-29-14, 03:44 PM
Interesting topic! I grew up in church (Protestant evangelical), my mom was actually the children's pastor for 10 years, so needless to say we spent a LOT of time in/around church and church functions.

I currently only attend church on Wed. evenings, when it's done in a small group format. I've found that, no matter how much I try, I can't sit through a normal Sunday morning sermon without wanting to claw my eyes out. The idea of sitting still for an hour, doing nothing except listening makes me want to run the other way. The times that I do go I end up taking multiple bathroom breaks and/or having to distract myself by doodling/etc. If I didn't think people would look at me funny I would take my crochet or something similar to do with my hands. I have to crochet/etc to be able to sit still long enough to watch television, even if it's a program that I'm REALLY interested in, so sitting still for a sermon that may or may not interest me is a big stretch.

I like my Wed. night group because it's a smaller format (about 15 or so women) and it's done informally with a lot of discussion and interaction. I think that the best way to really engage someone with ADHD in church related activities is to get them involved in some way. Either discussing, worshiping, helping lead a class, or something similar.

I think as it is, traditional church format (much like traditional schooling format) isn't really a good fit for ADHDers.

SB1985
01-29-14, 03:46 PM
I'm not even hyperactive, just inattentive.. and I can't handle any type of religious services for more than 15 minute doses at a time without wanting to set myself on fire.

Drogheda
01-29-14, 04:22 PM
the more I've grown the more I have parted with church, even though I still do tend communion on Wednesdays every now and then for the social bit. I actually kind of want to get back into doing that because even though I might have my problems with the church (organized) the eat and great thing is really healthy. I won't go into my own philosophy here.

but I have to mimic what everyone has said, regular Sundays are horrible. growing up, I remember my mother constantly having to wake me up so I slowly started to grow weary of sunday morning. sense you want a bit more information.

this is the thing, in my case, I crave constant stimulation. I also retain information pretty well. ADHD is a misnomer because we don't have a problem with attention, the name was given when very little was actually known about it. most of the time we(or I) have to much attention but if it's not stimulating I drift. sunday mornings were like that, 40 minutes of the same and then 3 minutes of new information and then 20 or so of preaching about it.

the reason this is a problem isn't necessarily because of the information being given or the explanation, it's because we are not actively part of the discussion(or I, I keep saying we but I mean I in my case).

besides a sort of sunday school were it's more of a conversation I can't actively think what anyone could do to make traditional church more attractive to people with at least my own *type* of ADHD.

if you have more questions to me specifically I will answer but they will be at the end of the day. I would love to help out anyway I can.

dvdnvwls
01-29-14, 04:45 PM
It really depends on your own ADHD symptoms and tendencies. Different for different people.

The obvious stereotyped thing is of course simply sitting through and paying attention. Either wanting to jump up and leave, or the mind wandering into daydream-land.

But what about some of the less well-known aspects of ADHD? Our somewhat widespread preoccupation with fairness and justice, our habitually creative and improvisatory approaches to ideas, our frequent preference for conceptual clarity as opposed to proliferation of details, and sometimes our attachment to routines and habits as opposed to frequent planning?

Some of these might have far-reaching implications in religion - I think it's no accident that my religious views are what most would consider ultra-ultra-liberal, liturgy and ritual are very important to me, and preaching and music styles that are conceptually brilliant and highly creative make much more difference to me than styles that are linear and explanatory.

Tmoney
01-29-14, 05:48 PM
Well, any speech, ceremony, lecture or church sermon that goes too long is going to lose the attention of most people with AD(H)D.

It has to be interesting, stimulating and it should be broken into steps or segments so that it doesn't just roll on and on.

The speaker and his method are very important. Eye contact, facial expressions, maybe a little humor is always very helpoful to keeping our attention.
The good thing about most churches is they understand today to have a chid sit still and be quiet through a church service, much less an AD(H)D child, is just not going to work.

Separating them and making the information more to their level and in an enviroment that promotes interest was really a great idea.

zilphy
01-29-14, 05:52 PM
I have attended church my entire life and still find it very difficult to sit through a church service. I typically draw (very discreetly) on the back of the bulletin. I am able to listen to the sermon and draw.

After the service, I struggle with sitting through a Sunday school class. I find myself unable to absorb all of the information presented to me in such a short time frame. An excellent sermon and a well prepared lesson will leave me exhausted.

I also have trouble with dressing like the other ladies. It completely stressed me out to dress in a skirt, heels and hose. So now I wear very simple outfits (usually jeans, blazer and a blouse). Not having to keep up with an extensive wardrobe helps me be more relaxed and receptive.

My husband is a church leader and has been very supportive of accommodating me. Without his support I would be miserable attending church.

I attempt to curb my impulsiveness/outspokeness at church. Especially since my husband is so visible. Unfortunately, I am unable to be myself at church and therefore have to find friends of faith elsewhere.

dvdnvwls
01-29-14, 06:06 PM
I forgot - or didn't emphasize - that theatrical dramatic symbolic actions tend to engage my mind.

I neglected to mention that one aspect of insistently-conceptual thinking that seems relevant here is my intense distaste for and rejection of what are sometimes called "proof texts". I have a much greater tendency than most, to expect to read the entire Bible as a single entity and ask "What is it for, what does it mean", and to refuse to accept little passages as confirmation of a pastor's or preacher's or group's prejudices.

execfunc
01-29-14, 06:22 PM
Hello, all! I am hoping to gain some insight on this topic. My wife has diagnosed ADD and I am currently on track to go to seminary. Although we've talked about it together, I would like some further insight into what really works for you and what does not work at all for you when you go to church (if you do). Also, what would benefit you most as someone with ADD that churches in your experience currently do not provide?

I may or may not publish something on this topic down the road, but I do plan to at least try to raise awareness with pastors and congregations. If you share something, do so knowing that I may decide to share your thoughts beyond this forum, but I will not use any identifying information (not even a user name). Thanks for whatever ideas and insight you can throw my way. Peace!

My faith, which requires regular church service attendance, is enormously helpful in dealing with my ADHD.

Medication has helped me a lot, although even before my diagnosis and treatment, I loved being at Mass every Sunday and holy days. I'm not sure how other church services go, but as a Catholic, I know I can count on routine, which I love. A lot of the Mass (notwithstanding readings, hymns, the pastor's homily, and some other details) is the same each week. It is occasionally challenging to ensure that I'm not just going by rote recitation; i.e., I need to sporadically check myself and make sure that I am actively participating in the Mass, rather than simply rattling off the prayers and zoning out when I should be listening.

This is one of the few times when I can do this, even though it's not always easy. It's extremely rewarding. I honestly think that it's because I love my faith so much! If you have true passion for something, you will be able to focus on it and do it right with, if necessary, some work. This is why we struggle so terribly with tasks and pastimes that don't have the spark that ignites a fire in our hearts. E.g., I've been working on a painting for the last month. I've put at least 90-100 hours into it. It's hard, sometimes grueling, work, but I love it, and I don't notice the passage of time.

I am also involved in a lot of church activities. I'm a Knight of Columbus, I coordinate one of our outreach programs to feed the homeless and needy, I do all the graphic design work for our parish, and whenever I have time, I participate in miscellaneous activities organized by our pastoral minister. Again, I fervently love my faith! Even though I might be late to my KofC meeting, forget until the last minute to make phone calls for soup kitchen outreach, and put off making a flyer I'm supposed to design for too long, none of these things feel dreadful, dark, depressing, or stressful like tasks I don't enjoy.

As far as accommodations from my church with regard to this disorder, I don't expect anything like that. It's up to me to deal with my ADHD, and it's up to my church to save my soul. My pastor and our parishioners are more than happy to offer me support if I ask for it. The only time I've ever asked anyone for any sort of extraordinary arrangement because of this disorder was this month. I asked my painting teacher for an incomplete (it was a two-week winter session course) so I could finish the painting I mentioned above. My view is that people with ADHD need as much accountability as possible. I could be wrong about this as it relates to church (or in general, for all I know I'm no expert), but I don't know what a church could do to accommodate someone with ADHD without impacting the experience of everyone else. I teach in higher ed., and for students with ADHD who request it, we will allow more time to finish some work and a quiet area in which to work. I don't think either of those would apply for this situation.

Sorry about the long-winded reply. haha ADHD.

execfunc
01-29-14, 06:23 PM
I forgot - or didn't emphasize - that theatrical dramatic symbolic actions tend to engage my mind.

Yes! I love the ritual.

fracturedstory
01-30-14, 06:16 AM
I only spent my under diagnosed non-medicated days in a church. After all the singing and stuff my mind would start to wander. I would peer to the back of the er...auditorium and look at the clock every 10 minutes. I swore I saw the hour hand move backwards at times. I would flip Matchbox cars over the seats, down the aisles and doodle in my notebook. I even did the latter as a teenager. I would swing my legs constantly and get told off by my mother. I could not concentrate at all on sermons.

Once I didn't go to Sunday School or the church sermons and built a mini utopia in the sand pit, and everyone saw me. Then I destroyed it.

My favourite parts were the eating lunch afterwards, jumping off the children's fort, climbing the church banner (and spitting on the one light that came on at the entrance at night), climbing the church gate and hurling rocks at the cars. I also snuck in the bush land area, into some facility affiliated with the air force, someone's house on church grounds, and this area with horses.

ADHD? Me? Pssh.

When I grew up it was still hard to not look at the clock, doodle all over my scripture notes or have my mind wander during communion. I used to worry about eating and drinking too fast. Then I did it too slow.

Jacksper
01-30-14, 07:31 AM
Well I recently distanced myself from the christian faith which I held for my whole life (I am now in my mid twenties). I'm an agnostic now. But I still go to church, every two weeks or so.

I find most of the church service incredibly boring, especially now that I don't join the singing, but I like the people and I always hope there's an interesting sermon. There hardly ever is. Last Sunday was especially terrible, the visiting preacher spoke with a judgemental tone about the evolution/creationism debate, and he was a young earth creationist (YEC). In addition to sounding judgemental, he made so many factual errors in his sermon that it was clear that he doesn't no a thing about biology/geology/etc and that he got all of his argument from YEC books. It was interesting to learn that a lot of my friends (who are christians) in church didn't like the sermon either, I thought I was alone in this but apparently my friends also lean to believing evolution is true.

Sorry if I offend you, I don't mean to: I respect people who are YEC if they are humble and respectful to others.

But still I go to church. I think I am looking for the good stuff in faith, and one is community. I think this is great. It's even worth investing a boring 90 minutes! There are more good things though.

The boringness of church has always been a challenge, even in my christian years. When I read the bible, I see the church described as a loving community that is working hard for the good in the world. It sounds exciting. Big contrast with the 21st century churches. When church is exciting (think evangelical church services with a good band and a charismatic speaker) it's often fake and hypocritical in my opinion (ok we are all fake/hypocritical to some extent, but these churches carry this to a whole new level), so then I'd rather be in a boring place with real people.

Again I don't mean to offend. I love all of you, of all faiths. Just wanted to share my experience. First time doing this online.

kilted_scotsman
01-30-14, 07:39 AM
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