Assumptions about ADHD Attention

Those ADD / ADHD stereotypes ain’t necessarily so!

Today I want to talk about assumptions.

I was inspired by a comment last week from a reader whose attention was distracted by the formatting in the blog, and who assumed most other ADD / ADHD Adults would dislike it as well.  I was surprised by that assumption, since I had always heard differently.  I realized that I was guilty of assuming that most with ADD / ADHD would find formatting more reader-friendly.

What is reader-friendly for ADD / ADHD?So rather than continue with my assumption, I decided to check it out.   I posed a survey question to my readers about the use of formatting: whether bold face, italics and color made text more reader-friendly for you.   (Thank you for your response;  I especially appreciated all the thoughtful comments and suggestions!)

Here are the answers in order of preference:

  • 47% like bit of formatting
  • 44% LOVE formatting
  • 6% don’t notice it
  • 2% HATE it
  • 1% dislike it

I think the preference of my readers was strong enough to give me a clear mandate to continue my formatting.

But that got me thinking about assumptions in general, and how they aren’t always right.  Especially when it comes to ADD / ADHD Adults and our attention span.

Short attention span?  Not when we’re interested!

We all know that stereotype / assumption that people with ADD have a short attention span.  And it’s true.  We DO have a shorter attention span.  Except when we’re really interested, we get totally focused and lose all track of time.

When I first started giving Thrive with ADD virtual classes in 2002 over the phone, the general assumption was that they shouldn’t go longer than 45 minutes.  Everyone thought an ADHD audience wouldn’t be able to pay attention longer than that.

The problem was, I wanted to give solutions that went in-depth, so that people could leave the class and really understand how they could get the strategies they learned to work for them.  And I wanted people to be able to ask questions.   It just wasn’t possible to reach that level of understanding in 45 minutes.

So I thumbed by nose at the general assumptions and scheduled my classes for 90 minutes.

And a funny thing happened.  With Q&A, they often ran over 90 minutes because the more we got going, the more questions people had.  And the class would still be going strong sometimes at 11:00 at night.  Because when people got really interested, they didn’t want to leave without getting the answer.

Virtual ADHD Conference – New In-Depth Master Classes
October 7-10, 2013

The Virtual ADHD Conference is in its sixth year, and this time they’re going to a new format of fewer speakers and longer classes.  I applaud them for bucking the assumption that our ADD attention span is necessarily short.

I’ll be giving a two-hour Master Class on “Obstacles to Time Management.”   I’m really looking forward to this longer format, getting to dig in on this topic with people who really care about solving one of the most pervasive challenges facing most ADD / ADHD Adults.    And I encourage you to ditch any assumption that you’re doomed to have a lifelong problem with lateness and managing time.

I’ll be writing more about the Conference soon.  But – heads up – registration is open, and early bird pricing is in effect.

Have you ever realized an assumption of yours was wrong?   Please comment and share!

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Categories: Blog,News and Views,Time Management / Lateness,Uncategorized

Author: Bonnie Mincu

Senior Certified ADHD Coach, Founder of "Thrive with ADD," Bonnie has been coaching adults with ADD / ADHD traits since 2001. She has developed numerous training programs to help with the challenges of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder.

10 Responses to "Assumptions about ADHD Attention"

  1. Angie Posted on July 18, 2013 at 10:42 am

    I assumed that the ADD diagnosis meant that I could only have limited success. After reading the Gift of ADD, I realized that several people with ADD were fabulously successful. It gave me the gumption to persevere and not let my ADD be an insurmountable obstacle.

    • Bonnie Mincu Posted on July 18, 2013 at 1:11 pm

      There are many highly successful people with ADD. Einstein, the founders of JetBlue and Kinkos, Walt Disney, John Kennedy Jr. (and probably JFK) to name just a few. See the 5-minute video online, “The Attention Movie” at

  2. suzanne Posted on July 18, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    There may be an assumption that your readers all have add/adhd.
    I read because my son has adhd.
    Thanks for posting, formatted or not formatted makes no difference.

    • Bonnie Mincu Posted on July 18, 2013 at 2:32 pm

      Actually, I assume there are some who don’t know if they have ADD, but relate to the traits. And of course, others who read my strategies to help loved ones. But I write AS IF the reader is ADD / ADHD since ADD Adults are my primary market.

  3. mag Posted on July 18, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    Have you read / google about the ‘gifted’ vs ‘ADD / ADHD’ ? And how they have similar qualities, but they are two different breed? And how the gifted can be misdiagnosed as ADD/ADHD?
    If so, this website of yours, is it more to the gifted OR the genuine ADD / ADHD?

    • Bonnie Mincu Posted on July 19, 2013 at 12:28 am

      I write about the challenges of ADD, from an ADHD Coach perspective, to help people live their best life. Whether or not one is “gifted,” traits of ADD / ADHD can be frustrating. Being gifted doesn’t help much if you can’t get started or don’t follow through on your ideas.

  4. mag Posted on July 18, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    I noticed myself when I wrote / emails to close friends and wrote in the forum or blogs when I don’t have to follow the human’s rules or care about what they will think of me, then i AUTOMATICLY use more CREATIVE and more EMOTIONAL expression ways of writing.
    such as CAPS, CoLOuRs, and different FoNTs and PICS and EmotiCONS
    does it mean i got ADD/ADHD or just being automaticly GIFTED type?

    • Bonnie Mincu Posted on July 19, 2013 at 12:29 am

      Beats me. Maybe you’re just being you!

  5. teejay Posted on July 23, 2013 at 12:41 am

    When I write, I use bullet point format when I try to convey something to a reader or an audience. And I never try to be clever linguistically like the New York Times. My approach is somewhat abrupt, but, people mostly listen. Then they disagree or agree.

    But, when I read, I do not have time for shenanogins. I usually copy things I see on the computer, to a Word Document. I then reformat to Times Roman 12 or 14 pt. L’s look like L’s and not a numerical one and the character spacing is more constant. Helvetica and many of it’s similar look-alikes, slow my speed and reduce my understanding.

    • Bonnie Mincu Posted on July 23, 2013 at 12:24 pm

      Copying to a Word doc is a smart strategy for a number of reasons. Then you can read at your leisure, print it out, and are less likely to get caught up in an endless web-surf loop.

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