The Cognitive Dysfunctions of AD/HD

The cognitive dysfunctions of AD/HD include the procrastination, the inability to start work on a pre-set time, “forgetfulness,” poor organization skills, fluctuating grades (even in the same subject), taking a very long time to complete a relatively simple task. They may also have a difficult time maintaining “mental energy” focused on a task.

Reading may be a problem, since as they start reading, their mind may become distracted, leading to thinking about something else, so that by the end of the paragraph or a page, the individual has no idea what they were reading about. The same thing may happen when trying to monitor a conversation, a lecture, or copying the homework from the blackboard.

Others may be unable to complete a simple task, jumping from one thing to the other, starting many different assignments, unable to complete any of them. For example trying to clean the room knowing that mom will check it in one hour. As soon as the child is starting to clean up, he comes across a book, remembering that homework is not done, looking for the notebook but the homework assignment is not written down. The next logical thing is to call a friend who gives him the homework but also reminds him of the rock concert next week. This urges him to listen to the band’s CD, but it seems to be out of the box. “No problema!” he thinks to himself, I can load this music on the computer in one second. He goes online with AOL and guess what??? His best buddy is online. He chats a little with his friend remembering that he wanted to download some music, but on his way he clicks on a very appealing commercial for skateboards, his favorite hobby, checking out the latest models only to be “awaken” by his mother’s voice, yelling at him in a terrible screeching voice. “What’s wrong with you? You had an hour to clean up your room and nothing was done.” The child gets upset and starts crying, yelling back, “I can’t believe you are angry at me for trying to do my homework.”

The best way of understanding the cognitive dysfunctions of AD/HD is by trying to perform a very demanding academic task very late at night, being extremely tired, when all one really wants to do is sit comfortably and “veg out in front of the TV.” Doing the task under these circumstances may require reading and re-reading the same page several times until it “sinks in.” This is how a child with AD/HD operates under regular conditions. Similar difficulties will be present in undiagnosed adults with this condition.