What if They had an Inattentive ADHD Party and nobody came?

There is a lot of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD or ADHD-PI) in my family. This would lead to pandemonium were it not for the fact that we all use multiple accommodation methods (as in Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations) to remind us where to be, when to be there and why we are going.

Remember the quote from the 1960s? "What if they had a war and nobody came?” In my family that question hangs in the air no matter what the event is. "What if they had an Inattentive ADHD party and nobody came?" Without a significant amount of help, my relatives are likely to show up on the wrong day, show up at the wrong time, show up at the wrong person's house or not show up at all.

The accommodation that most members of my family use are not high tech. My mother sticks a sticky note on herself when she needs to remember something and then everyone who sees her asks, "Why do you have a post-it on you that says 'ophthalmologist'?" She reports that her post it note method is ideal because everyone she sees reminds her of her appointments. Another member of my family writes all over her hand with Sharpie when she has an important task or appointments to remember. On busy weeks her hand is so tattooed with Sharpie notes that she looks like a member of a Goth band.

I am more technologically evolved than these relatives. I have alarms on my cell phone that I turn on to alert me of upcoming responsibilities. This works pretty well except when it doesn't. Last week my cell phone alarm went off at seven in the morning and I turned it off and shrugged that I already remembered the meeting that I had at eight. That alarm however was not for THAT meeting but was to remind me put the bag of donations out on the curb for the Kidney Foundation. The bag had been cluttering up my mud room for weeks but my alarm system only works if my mind is working and therein lays the problem of any reminder system.

The more cluttered my brain becomes, the less likely that I am to remember why I set the alarm. I do always write in my calendar why I set the alarm but if I am busy and scattered, I am too inattentive to bother to read the reason for the alarm.  I hate those little details and besides I am sure that I know why I set the alarm.  This is the reason why the Kidney Foundation bag is now cluttering up my basement.

Pulling off successful holiday parties, in my family, involves the production and distribution of email reminders that are sent out daily at first and then almost hourly as the time of the big party approaches. Even with all the reminders, some of us arrive late or with the wrong side dish. Luckily we are a forgiving group. In the past years we have come to depend on our cell phones which thankfully start ringing and texting when we have totally missed the mark.

My mother tells a funny story of getting all of us kids scrubbed and dressed for a big costume party when my youngest sister was 2 and my eldest brother was seven. There were four kids to outfit and it was a huge production.  The party was at noon and she woke us all up at seven in the morning to prepare.  All of us had to be fed, bathed, combed, and clothed in costumes no less. She said she worked continuously from seven to noon to get us all ready and when we arrived at the Country Club where the big party was to be held there was not a soul around as the party was not for another week.

I am guilty of arriving at parties an hour or a week early or late, arriving at the wrong person's house, arriving with the wrong type of greeting card or not arriving at all. "What if they gave an Inattentive ADHD party and nobody came?" That is what should be expected. The miracle is when anyone arrives at all.

When I told my family that I was starting a blog about Inattentive ADHD my aunt said, "You mean the distracted leading the distracted?" My mother, ever the optimist, said "You expect these despistados to actually find their way back to your blog?" The Spanish word 'despistadado' is a, not as charitable, word for the English word 'distracted'. I had to admit that they had a point. Getting followers or readers might prove to be an uphill climb.

I think my mother and aunt are wrong so do me a favor and place your face up there with those lovely faces of followers on the right and please subscribe to my email or RSS feed (also on the right of this blog).  My relatives will not believe it unless they see it for themselves.


  1. Hilarious - I've totally had trouble reading your blog because, of course, I bookmarked it and my bookmarks are a huge & horrible mess and I had to remember where it was, in the middle of a long list, inside a folder . . . so, I signed up for RSS. What a great idea ;-) And what a nice family story. Mine tends more toward shame & scotch in the face of party faux pas!

  2. There would not be enough scotch or shame in my family to handle all the faux pas, LOL. Thanks for reading!! Tess

  3. I love your blog. My son is adhd-pi but I use a whole lot of accommodations for myself too. I have so many visual systems, lists, labels, reminders, etc etc that people actually ask me for organizing tips. I only do it because I can't trust myself to remember anything! :) Your blog is a tremendous help to understanding my son, thank you.

  4. Keri,
    Would you send me some of the tips?? I, and probably all my readers, could use all the help that we can get. I am always looking for helpful reminder methods that cost little or no money but that are a little less primitive than writing on your hand with Sharpie. If you happen to have a moment and can send them then I will post them. If anybody else reading this has a tip, please send them my way as well. Keri, thanks so much for writing in and for becoming a follower!! Tess

  5. This is so, so me!

    I've lost count of the number of appointments I've missed due to getting the time, date, or place wrong. After I narrowly missed out on top marks one year at Uni for getting a submission date wrong, I've got notes all over the place, a diary, you name it.

    But the most helpful thing I've found is a computer organiser. There's a nifty program you can get called EfficientPIM you can get as a free version also, and it has alarms, desktop post-it notes, a calendar, and all sorts. Because I use the computer frequently, it helps.

    I can still mess up, but that's usually because I forget to include something important in my reminders. If I make paper notes, I tend to lose them or forget them.

    Apparently I'm a "high functioning" ADD-I person, but whatever part of my brain deals with dates, days and time has atrophied. I have no sense of any of those things no matter how hard I try. So if you're like me and mess up even with your reminders, get a computer organiser like the one I've mentioned. :)

  6. Technology is helping us all I think. My google calendar is synched to my phone and this helps as well. Thanks for letting us know about the EfficientPIM. I will check into it. Tess

  7. Hi, I'm very glad to have found your blog. I have not been formally diagnosed, but based on the reading I've done I do believe I have PI. I come back to your blog often and find it helpful, although I haven't book marked it and have trouble remembering what exact key work combination to google search for, but I always seem to find you. :-) I've developed a few OCB habits to compensate for being forgetful, I call myself a "double checker". I have to check things two, three, or four times to convince myself I did turn off the coffee pot, or lock the front door of the house, or set my car keys on my night stand etc. I've never really understood why I do this, but in reading about PI, I now understand I've devised my life around compensating for the fog I seem to live in. I've enjoyed a very successful career in high tech, I'm a Director for a very large high tech company. I'm often surprised that I've made it this far, and I live in constant fear of one day being discovered as a fraud. Like the "double checking", I've developed quite a bag of tricks to keep myself on track at work and at home. Very low tech tricks, it's taxing.
    I enjoy reading your blog. Please keep up the good work. I'm off to look for my iPod which I haven't seen in two weeks. I know I laid it down somewhere here in the house .....:-)

  8. It took me a long time to stop feeling like a fraud. I know exactly how that feels. I am glad you found me and please bookmark my page or join the email feed, that way you have to search for one less thing. Our days are to busy searching for all those other things!!

    Thanks for your comment, I think your ipod is in the medicine cabinet ;)

  9. "Getting followers or readers might prove to be an uphill climb."

    This statement is a flawed generalization which has no factual basis. It's actually a limiting belief commensurate with Barkley et. al's non-scientific propaganda.

    Here's a factual statement to counter the notion that ADD/SCTers are socially inept and can't attract others to their "cause": Even as an undiagnosed ADHD adult, I spent 7 years as a nightclub promoter and attracted thousands to venues that were previously on "life support".

    I also did so before social media networks even existed, using a simple message board which would eventually net 5000+ members. See the Facebook Fan page here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Chicago-Fusion/70093952563?v=photos

    This site is an excellent resource (Links to Drug Pushers like Barkley and CHAAD notwithstanding). I'd just add some extra social media bells and whistles and you'll have a huge following over time.

    I'd be happy to help by making some back links to posts.

    Anyone else with a blog please help Tess out by creating backlinks as well. She clearly expends a great deal of effort in keeping it up to date and relevant.

  10. Pete, I agree with you!! We are a much more capable bunch than most folks would have you believe.

    Thanks so much for your help. I would love any backlinks you and anyone else could send my way. I am not a tech person so any tech advice is also always appreciated.


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