Years ago…many years ago before I even knew what ADHD was, I had a moment of humiliation that affected me very deeply. I had forgotten about the incident until the other day when I was cooking dinner and found myself staring at a wooden spoon in my hand, flustered, because I didn’t know what I was doing with it.
Let me take you back 20 years to an evening when I had an out of town guest dining at my house. It was tough enough to prepare a meal for her when I had a hyperactive toddler and a pre-schooler under my feet. Somehow, I got through it.
After dinner, I began to clean the kitchen and my guest followed me in, chatting about something or another, when I realized that I could not wash the dishes and listen to her at the same time. I became so rattled by this frozen state, that I remember to this day, holding up a wooden spoon that I had just washed, and not knowing what in the world I needed to do with it next. I stared at it; no…gaped at it and questioned my sanity.
How could I not clean dishes and carry on a conversation at the same time??
Fast forward to the other night. I had someone over and we were chatting as I was cleaning up the dinner dishes. I held up the wooden spoon I was cleaning, and the exact same thing happened again. I could not maintain a conversation while washing the dishes.
This time, however, I was not humiliated. Rather, I understood that my brain “gets stuck” at times like this, when I need to multi-task, especially when it involves different types of activities. I can’t listen while “doing.” This is common with people who have ADHD; we have executive functioning deficits. “Executive function deficits are problems in the starting, sequencing and stopping of actions.” (wikia.com)
Those of us with ADHD often not only have executive functioning difficulties, but we also struggle with working memory. Working memory is the process of being able to hold information in mind for short periods of time. For example, if you call information to get a phone number and can’t keep it in mind long enough to dial it, that might be considered a problem with your working memory.
I’ve been intrigued by cognitive training programs, like Lumosity Brain Fitness Program, CogMed and others, and am interested in the research that’s been coming out.
I do believe that just like we need to exercise our bodies, our brain needs a workout as well.
So, next time you mysteriously find a wooden spoon in your hand, don’t fear! It’s just an example of executive functioning going wrong and how our ADHD can throw us for a loop.