Distraction,Defiance, or Coping? By Melissa Garner
Attending a conference session where the leader is open about personal struggles and strengths is a liberating experience.
ADHD and Concentration
Andrew recently keynoted a conference I attended. In his talk, he openly acknowledged having the superpower of ADHD. Hearing that, I felt free to unhide the crochet project I had been working on. Why? Because for me, crochet is the best way I’ve found to stay focused when listening to information.
I also have ADHD (distracted) and my hands are always busy with something. It’s easy to pull out my phone and start fiddling with it; that pulls my attention away from what I’m learning, though, so I work to make that hard for me to do.
When I got good enough at crochet, I discovered that I could crochet and give the bulk of my attention elsewhere. During the pandemic, I could crochet (often off camera) during meetings where I didn’t have responsibility to contribute significantly. Now it’s how I tell my brain to pay attention.
So at the conference, I pulled out the ever-present cotton yarn and started making washcloths for people who were near me. The first I made for Andrew as a reminder of our time together.
At the end of that first keynote, I had some great notes, Andrew’s washcloth finished, and the start of washcloth for someone at my table who remarked about how the colors of the yarn reminded her of Oregon – the ocean and the trees.
At the end of the next session, the second was ready for its recipient and I’d started a third for another person at my table. At the end of the third session, I’d given away the 2nd and finished the third.
What’s to learn from this experience?
When I am open and honest about my struggles, people feel more connected and comfortable.
When I notice someone doing something unexpected in a space I’m in, I have a choice to make: will I see this as defiance or as coping?
And, on a related note, I know that deciding the first often causes significant educational trauma for students with neurodiverse brains. I parent one of these kids.
Giving away what you create is good for both you and the person receiving.
Make the right thing easy. Make the wrong thing hard.
Melissa (Mosey) Garner is the manager of IT Governance, Policy and Strategy for Oregon’s Education department. She’s the mom of two neurodiverse kids and the longtime wife of Rick. She’s passionate about people she loves, personality theory, crochet, and Jesus. She’s on Twitter as @moseylissa and Discord as moseylissa#0907 though she lurks more than she posts.