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Old 11-06-09, 01:56 AM
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How to Communicate with Someone Who Has ADD and Doesn't Know It

I need some help either communicating a little better with someone who has ADD, helping her understand that she needs to be more aware of her social interaction, or maybe both. If possible, I would rather deal with just me, as I don't want to work to change someone else, nor do I believe my friend is the type of person who will/can make big changes this late in her life. Some quick backstory:

I am friends with an elderly lady, Teresa, who is a former neighbor of mine. I still speak with her on the phone and visit when I am visiting the area. Mostly I just fix her computer and help with fixing things around the house. Lately, I have been assisting in helping her get her finances in order as she seeking a job, and that's where my need to really communicate clearly with her is becoming a big problem. Or rather, her lack of awareness of her communication is becoming a problem.

Endless tangents, interruptions, sudden changes in the subject of conversation, sharing inappropriate details about others, and roundabout answers, with life-spans that rival most stage monologues, are what almost every conversation I have ever had with her has been comprised of.

I have serious issues with my social communication - I know that. But I always want to be getting better with it, and I really make the effort. As much as Teresa says she is aware of her communication, I must confess that I couldn't disagree more; everything she says and does says the opposite.

I really, really want to be able to communicate with her, but I am not sure how anymore. When we have gone over her taxes or other detailed paperwork, it takes all afternoon and evening when it can easily be done in less than 1-2 hours.

She has mentioned that she has been told by a doctor that she has ADD, but it was in passing, and she has no real idea what it is, not how she would be affected by it. Any suggestions would be much appreciated, not only to help with the given situation, but so that I can learn how to do better on my own too.

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Old 11-06-09, 04:07 AM
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Re: How to Communicate with Someone Who Has ADD and Doesn't Know It

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Originally Posted by astronaut View Post
Endless tangents, interruptions, sudden changes in the subject of conversation, sharing inappropriate details about others, and roundabout answers, with life-spans that rival most stage monologues, are what almost every conversation I have ever had with her has been comprised of.
You've just described my mother. I tell her what ADD is, explain things but generally it's just in one ear and out the other. The other night I helped her with her paperwork and she was all over the map taking hours longer than it needed to. It is difficult to be patient but I don't see an alternative. My mom is now medicated and it does make a difference, she's very pleased with not having so much fog to deal with.

The communication tho.. no change. It's nice of you to care, but she'd have to do it herself. You can only give her information and it's all up to her.
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Old 11-09-09, 02:56 PM
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Re: How to Communicate with Someone Who Has ADD and Doesn't Know It

I don't know what to do about the conversational language, but I have an idea on what may help with the written communication via email - I'll make an email cheat sheet. We have all kinds of references for writers, but what about a novice to emails? I am in the middle of writing a rather heavy request for Teresa to back off on all the details in her emails, but what if I just gave her an email cheat sheet that showed how to informally communicate online? If anyone wants to contribute, that would be great, as it sounds like it could be utilized by many people on the forums as well, including myself. And this is purely for informal emails, not for a business environment or an educational setting.

  • I If you know you might have misspelled Nikita Khrushchev when you typed "Nikita Kruzchev", then put a "(sp*)" afterward to signify a possible misspelling. Thus you would have something like:
I have to write a paper on Nikita Kruzchev (sp*) and Soviet Russia.

  • Instead of using A.S.A.P., type ASAP or asap.
  • Using all caps in a word generally means you are shouting
  • It's perfectly possible to still follow the rules of written grammar while being informal
  • Keep the subject line simple. Instead of putting "(1.) continuing to gather up work history information (2.) question about logging off instead of turning computer completely off periodically", type something like "My computer" or "Some questions"
Eh, saavy?


I saw this yesterday, and as I laughed, I also wanted to scream "it's not a social disorder, @#$%@, it's ADD!"
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Old 11-09-09, 07:33 PM
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Re: How to Communicate with Someone Who Has ADD and Doesn't Know It

Wow, that's a tough one.

I'm wondering if the task at hand is the issue here. I assume there's a lot to go over? Heck, I'm in my 30's and nothing would get my ADHD into overdrive than having to do that all in one afternoon

Remember; ADHD needs specifics and time limits. Limit your task and your time.
I'd say spend no more than an hour with her. Give her an assignment that has specific results and can be done easily.

I would think that coming back several afternoons is going to be better for both you and her, rather than wasting pretty much the whole day.

As for the part about wanting to improve, her domain. Not yours.
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Old 11-09-09, 07:39 PM
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Re: How to Communicate with Someone Who Has ADD and Doesn't Know It

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Originally Posted by Michiko74 View Post
Wow, that's a tough one.

I'm wondering if the task at hand is the issue here. I assume there's a lot to go over? Heck, I'm in my 30's and nothing would get my ADHD into overdrive than having to do that all in one afternoon

Remember; ADHD needs specifics and time limits. Limit your task and your time.
I'd say spend no more than an hour with her. Give her an assignment that has specific results and can be done easily.

I would think that coming back several afternoons is going to be better for both you and her, rather than wasting pretty much the whole day.

As for the part about wanting to improve, her domain. Not yours.
I think I understand what you are saying. But as to the task at hand, it's just a way to help her keep her emails on the shorter side. She has recently said that she is open to suggestions on how to improve communication, so I'm just trying to take that for everything it's worth.
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Old 11-10-09, 10:32 AM
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Re: How to Communicate with Someone Who Has ADD and Doesn't Know It

astronaut first of all are you employed by this woman or is this a favor being done as a friend free of charge.

If it is a freebie then I would break it up into small time limited task. It may not be her ADD but simply lacking some one to talk to at her age. The older one gets the more fluid time becomes so that you are not aware of how much time has past. Setting time limits and letting her know up front may lend the urgency necessary to get down to business

You might ask for shorter more concise e-mails but frankly I am in my mid forties and for me it is basically take me as I am or see ya later.

I really would resent some young person dictating to me how to communicate, I do only slightly better with my elders but as far as I am concerned those who have lived longer have more of a lee-way to be opinionated and bossy even then I have to bite my tongue.

If the details are sexual in nature simply telling her when she goes there that this is TMI - to much information


The e-mail crap to me you are being OCD - it isn't her that has the problem it is you.

Letting an older person know some of the stuff like using all caps is considered yelling is fine they may not know this but to insist she label her misspelling and making a big deal about punctuation is crap

I wouldn't bother e-mailing you again if you sent me that. Many young people have no idea how hard it is for older adults to learn the computer. If my mom's e-mails get to my in-box I am happy to hear from her same goes for my friends I do not critique their messages and nit pick their grammar and spelling {not that my dyslexic a** would notice}

When some one writes me I am happy they took the time to say hello in what ever manner they so choose.
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Old 11-13-09, 08:36 AM
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Re: How to Communicate with Someone Who Has ADD and Doesn't Know It

My god, i'm speechless. There is nothing more insulting than having someone talk at you and tell you what you should be doing, what sort of person you should be and what you should be thinking. If she wanted your help she would have asked. If she hasn't, butt out. You are not a superior being, you have no right to get into someones face and force your own ideas onto them.

I also think its disgusting that you provided us with personal details about this person. You are invading her privacy. You are not healthy for her and she would be better off getting help from someone who knew thier boundaries.
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Old 11-13-09, 04:13 PM
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Re: How to Communicate with Someone Who Has ADD and Doesn't Know It

I feel like there's something I'm missing when I'm posting here. I'm not upset or anything, it's just that that's my whole point - she did ask for help. And I understand that it is I who is just going to have to stick it out and everything, and I have - I've been patiently doing so for more than three years and I will do so for countless more. Trying to be a superior being couldn't be further from what my attempt here is to do. She knows she does this with everyone else and when she first asked in passing if there was something we could do to just communicate a little better, my suggestions didn't seem to work out. And that's okay, they just didn't. After some more attempts I wasn't sure what to do, as communication is important for what we are doing. That's why I posted here, but I feel like my motive was not made clear. When I brought up the email cheat sheet, I didn't mean for that to seem out of the blue, but that is exactly what I do for work: I write tutorials on using computers. I've written dozens and dozens, my friend even uses most of them, but what occurred to me during this was that I had never written one regarding online communication - it just never came up. I didn't talk to my friends about this, because they know her. That's why I posted here, so that I wouldn't invade her privacy. After seeing the responses, I feel really bad, because it's clear that I did not make it evident what my motives were. I don't want people to get the idea that I am trying to control this person, who I deeply respect and care about.
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Old 11-13-09, 04:31 PM
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Re: How to Communicate with Someone Who Has ADD and Doesn't Know It

Hey...
I didn't take anything you said in a negative way.

Well...the spelling issue is a bit much for personal emails.

The way I understand it,your just trying to make it easier for you to help her,as well as anyone else.

I think maybe there is concern on how you present these ideas to her,and how she feels about them.

If you're just trying to be the best friend you can be with her,than I'm sure it is very much appreciated!
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Old 11-14-09, 04:15 PM
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Re: How to Communicate with Someone Who Has ADD and Doesn't Know It

Hi there

Just wanted to let you know (again) that I thought your post was certainly well-intended,from any perspective.
From my perspective,I think it was more than admirable.

I have found myself many times,trying to help someone who requests a favor,in a predicament where more of my time and resources are needed than I originally expected.

I have helped people that requested my help,then been bitten in the butt because I obliged.

I have been taken advantage of more than once,and a few times have cost me thousands of dollars. I currently have a nice cozy little house with a 'water view' on my property that has been empty for 8 months now.

Not only were the last tenants late on payments,but I actually *paid them* $1400 to move out. Meth was much more important than rent,it turned out. Obviously by this rant,you can see I still haven't gotten over that.

I now go against my natural instincts when asked for help,if there is even a *chance* of it coming back to bite me. I still 'slip' more than I want.

I'll feel really bad for quite awhile,but I have learned that getting taken advantage of and then finding my resources in jeopardy, is an even worse feeling.

Yes,I have also 'helped' people that didn't ask for my help,but seemed to appreciate it when offered.

I'm fairly certain that I have also 'helped' people that did not ask for it, thereby insulting them.

I can't think of any off-hand,but my 'be a good boy scout' mentality combined with my admitted warped perception of NT reality,makes it quite likely.

Perhaps the offended responders have recently been the 'victim' of that, I don't know.

I do know that if your situation is even remotely similar to my rant,your response to their criticism is *much* more civilized than I could have been. It's safe to say that I would have been banned.
I'm trying to work on that issue,and you seem to have mastered it.
I noticed on your profile page that you haven't returned to the forum since those responses. I hope you do return,and see that at least one other person appreciates what you are doing.

Edit-Disclaimer: This response is just as motivated by my gratitude of one of my cousins 'watching out' for my Mom who lived 1.5 hrs away,until she passed.My gratitude for that little assurance and 'peace of mind' that he gave me,knowing he was just minutes away,can never be repaid.
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Old 11-21-09, 04:02 PM
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Re: How to Communicate with Someone Who Has ADD and Doesn't Know It

Astro:

This may seem off-topic, but when you were a child did you have to "care for" a parent because they had an addiction or mental illness?
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