What happens in the ADHD brain?

Brain ChaosWhat happens in the ADHD brain? It’s a mystery of the universe, right? Maybe, but once in a while, I coach someone and get a glimpse of the unique logic that is ADHD or at least what works for one person with ADHD. I’m grateful to EV for agreeing to let me share her unique logic. It matters little if it makes sense to you. What matters is it works for her. Like most with ADHD, her process might not be mainstream, but it works for her.

Paraphrased here is her narrative to a simple math problem. I hope you’ll get a WOW out of this and that you’ll embrace your unique logic and accept it as EV has in that it works for you and that’s all that matters.

“In one of my Facebook groups someone posted an interesting question: What happens in your head when you do 27+48?

“Now that I know what I know about working memory and attention and am more aware of math stuff, I can better explain my ‘overly complicated’ methods. So, here was my answer:

“My method looks complicated, but it works for me. I am only working with single digits for as long as possible. I don’t have the addition math facts memorized, but I enjoy the multiples of two (this helps keep my attention when presented with a challenge).

“So, I regroup the ‘hard’ 7+8 to something more significant to me to alleviate the strain on my working memory.
27+48=
(20+7)+(40+8)=

“Focus on the ones first:
8-7=1, so 8+7=(7+1)+7=(7+7)+1=(7*2)+1
7*2=14+1=15
15=10+5

“Turn to the tens place:
(20+40+10)/10=2+4+1
2+4=6+1=7
7*10=70

“Pull the tens and ones places together:
70+5=75

“This slows down my math at a higher level, and because of the pressure to do things quickly and because the emphasis for me was to ‘stop over-complicating things,’ I often made careless errors by trying to slow down and work through the problem in a way that I was told I ‘should’ but which challenged my working memory and executive functioning.

“Now, in my head I don’t really ‘see’ all these steps per se. Dividing by 10 or multiplying by 10 isn’t so explicit because that is a rule I rely on to keep to single digit manipulation. I just drop the ones place and it simply disappears. So, mathematically, I do what I wrote, but now some steps are a bit more invisible and automatic. I rely on many of these seemingly invisible rules in other areas of my life, as well, to help offset executive functioning shutdowns so I don’t get stuck with infinite options with infinite combinations of choices.

“This demonstrates math as a strength of mine. I clearly have good number sense to manipulate the numbers and play with their patterns so easily. (From my perspective it comes easily.) It is a clever way of accommodating my working memory without being aware of why I was simplifying my math when I was younger.

“Also, I probably would not be aware of this thought process unless I was learning about ADHD and currently taking or teaching third grade math with a splash of kindergarten, thanks to cyber school!”

There you have it! ADHD math logic that works (at least for EV). You might have a unique logic. Einstein did. Really, the space and time are curved. What? Get out of here. But wait…turns out Einstein was right. Who’d a figured.

And maybe EV has it right and everyone else has it wrong. The point is there are different paths, processes, and ways to get to the same place. EV’s method might look disorganized, but if she gets the right answer, it doesn’t matter what it looks like. Just because it appears disorganized doesn’t mean it isn’t organized!

EV, you go, girl!

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