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ADHD at Work

Eye Contact - What's the fuss?


I recently had a supervisor who insisted that I “look her in the eyes” when she spoke to me. To be honest, I hadn’t really thought about it, or hadn’t given it much concern.

But when I did look her in the eyes (with appropriate breaks, of course), I had a very difficult time following the conversation or focusing on anything she said.

As I thought more about it over time, and kind of observed my own behavior for a while, I realized that I almost NEVER look anyone in the eyes when having a serious (non-romantic) conversation. I find that, for me, focusing on one spot, or perhaps some inanimate object, I hear, and understand, and focus, and assimilate much more of what’s being said, and it also helps ME to communicate my thoughts. Looking at somebody in the eyes just “because” causes me to mentally grind to a near-halt.

I’ve done some searching online regarding the topic, and there’s all this “remedial training” for ADD/ADHD kids who aren’t making “proper” eye contact.

What the hell difference does it make? I’m the one with ADD, as well as being an off-the-scale introvert. Notice I said “introvert” and not “shy”... these are not necessarily one-and-the-same, although a lot of extroverts tend to expect us to be just like them. Well, both ADD *and* introversion present barriers to un-prepared meetings and other speaking events. I can pretend to be an extrovert and can (and have) speak to over a thousand people at once… because I practiced what I was going to say, until I got to the point where all I needed was a single bullet per speaking point.

Gee, did anyone notice that I just went “ADD”? Anyway, I would like to ask the rest of you:

Is it easier for your to concentrate and be more participative in certain conversations when you’re NOT making eye contact? Or if you do make eye contact, are you forcing it to fit in, or does it just come natural to you?

Second half of that question is this: I toll my boss, “You know, I have ADD, and I assure you I mean no disrespect, but I actually pay *better* attention when I’m focusing on an inanimate object.” In essence, I believe I just expressed the need for a “reasonable accommodation.” (i.e., please don’t force me to make eye contact if you want me to remain engaged in this conversation.”

Please, no “...but it’s the polite thing to do” answers. If you’re ADD, you must your own interpersonal communication quirks. If you’re also introverted to a fair degree, that adds yet another twist to the equation. Should this be up for grabs as a “reasonable accommodation” if it helps me be a better employee?

FYI, I did not have any customer-facing roles in this job, but if I’m in familiar situation that doesn’t require me to do any deep thinking or heavy conversation (about an unknown topic), I can be a fake extrovert in those situations.

Thoughts? Feelings? Unfeeling conformists?  grin

Thanks in advance for your input…


Sounds to me like your boss is a micro manager. Is she going to allow you this accommodation? I hope so. Tell her exactly as you’ve told us. What you have discovered after she made the request. If she makes a big stink of it. Go over her head if you have to. It is not unreasonable, in my book! Good luck!

Posted by sammi1966 on Oct 28, 2013 at 4:01pm

I personally make good eye contact naturally in most situations, maybe because most of the time I look forward to interacting with people, but in general having multiple distractions around me helps me focus when I’m feeling particularly unfocused.

I’m ADHD-PI though, so maybe this kind of thing is less of a problem for me because I have less hyperactive/impulsive symptoms.

I’m not sure if I’m an introvert or an extrovert, as I interact well with people socially, but I probably only share 5% of who I am, and where my thoughts are—which is all over the place.

Edit: Actually now that I think about it, I think I actually don’t really look in somebody’s eyes for a long time when receiving directions, as it distracts me from focusing on the message…

It seems it’s hardest to look somebody in the eyes when I have to put a lot of effort into processing information that involves organizing hierarchical actions over time.

Posted by masterchip27 on Oct 28, 2013 at 7:45pm


Your last two paragraphs: You’re right where my head is at with most of my issues are regarding eye contact. This particular boss is not my boss anymore, but I may be working in the same organization again if my lawyer and I prevail. That particular issue will be addressed as an accommodation that wasn’t even seriously considered by her, and she continued to insist on the eye contact, even though it blew my concentration.

I’m not sure if you’re aware of the “radial - vs- linear” communication modes that mark one of the key differences for those with ADD, but my understanding is that ADD-types sort of pull from a “circle” of inter-related information and piece together a narrative that takes others on a “joy ride of incomprehension.” Makes perfect sense to me/us, but it’s often hard for those who don’t know me well to follow me, unless of course it’s a topic I’ve already spoken on many times, or something I’m already very knowledgeable about, or, with new info, something that I’ve practiced talking about. So that’s one obstacle.

Introverts, depending on exactly how introverted they are, have difficulty processing new data and *talking about it at the same time*. So let’s say I go to a meeting… one of the agenda items is a new hiccup in our work processes, and we need to do some creative thinking to solve the problem. Introverts immediately start processing the data in their heads, but if they try to engage the others in what they’re thinking in a “real-time” manner, it all comes out sounding disjointed and… well, usually pretty hard for the others to grasp my intent. Why? I’m still actively processing the issue in my brain, and I simply can’t multi-task that way. I need to resolve the issue and formulate my inputs *first*, then organize my thoughts into a state where the average person can follow the logic, and *then* I’m able to engage the rest of the folks real-time. The only problem, in their rush to find a band-aid solution, they often get it wrong. They’ll simply overlook or fail to consider some element that will ultimately either make their plan fail, or perhaps it will work, but it’ll be clunky as hell.

Meanwhile, I take my product to my boss—a logical, well-thought-out and possibly over-analyzed input, but I was usually told something like: We’ve already made our decision; you had a chance to provide your input *in the meeting*, but you didn’t really offer anything.

Explaining to that particular manager about my introversion and how that impacts my ability to process new information and talk about it simultaneously, I would be told, “Well, the rest of us aren’t introverts, so you’ll just have to adapt to OUR way of doing things.

ADAPT? Really?

Anyway, once things fell apart based on the rest of the team’s conclusions, they would either come back and ask me to tell them my idea again. It would be adopted and it almost always worked. Or.. my boss would just take my earlier suggestions, implement them, and take the credit for it.

I’m sorry, ADD rambling again…

If you want to explore more about the introvert/extrovert issue (and a few additional attributes that combine to define your basic, overall personality type, I recommend using the Myers-Briggs testing. Now I’m not sure how this works, but the actual assessment is called the “Keirsy Temperament Sorter.” I’ll paste a link in. I think there are about 60 or 70 questions, but it’s worth 20 minutes to get some better insight to your own personality. For the most part, you’ll probably look at it and wonder who the hell got in your head!  grin 

Just remember—answer all questions/scenarios based on your usual, normal, everyday behavior/inclinations… NOT the way you would like to be, or something you aspire to—it must reflect the “you” who you are right now to get an accurate result.  Oh, and just so you know, this is the freely accessible web-based version of the assessment, but it is absolutely based on the same test you would pay a professional to administer to you; it’s *not* some cheesy “fun” test some random dude wrote up and put on the internet. It will ask you for your e-mail address at the end, but that’s only to mail you your results. Once you have the four-letter personality designator they provide, you can search out all kinds of info regarding your type all over the web. Not all of it is great, and I think some of it was written by amateurs. You’ll see what I mean if you start looking around.

If you don’t mind, let me know what you thought of the test and whether it was accurate.

Posted by Enterprizer on Oct 29, 2013 at 1:47am

Hey Enterprizer,

Just read your post. I’ll take the test and let you know what I think.

I am curious though, what did you do education-wise and in what field is your job? I’m currently trying to get a math degree and I face pretty similar problems in terms of approaching learning the material (linear vs. radial approaches), and it’s discouraging to me, despite knowing my ability, if I can apply myself adequately, is higher than most of my peers.

I staunchly believe that the current way we do things, in either education or at a workplace, is terrible for ADHD-types (and isn’t very optimal in the first place)... but I need to fit into society in some way, so I’m forced to find a way to fit.

Personally I hope to have a profession where I interact heavily with people, such as teaching.

Posted by masterchip27 on Oct 29, 2013 at 5:39am

Hello, Enterprizer (& masterchip27)

I was certified as a Myers-Briggs administrator years ago. (Haven’t used it in many years since an ADD-related kink in the Chaplaincy program I was training for fell apart for me.) As I was reading your story, Enterprizer, I found myself going to the Myers-Briggs information, and verging over into what little I know of neurolinguistics.

It seemed to me that your M-B indicated type would probably be INFJ, and that you would be a picture thinker (hence the neurolinguistics).

Watch a person’s eyes when they are thinking, especially when talking with someone. You can tell a picture thinker by where their eyes go when thinking. It will usually go off-dominant-hand (sometimes to dominant hand) and up. For me that would be up and to the left. I’m right-handed.

Picture thinker words will usually be visually oriented with phrases like “Do you see what I’m saying.”

Word thinkers (eyes going horizontally left or right), on the other hand, can’t SEE what you are saying, but they can UNDERSTAND it if your descriptive is in easily definable words, not drawn from the pictures you see in your mind. If I say JOHN DEER TRACTOR, I see a specific tractor, and I may be tempted to describe it. If I describe what the tractor is doing, I will be narrating an unfolding story that I am SEEING (almost a video). In other words, if I talk about the tractor turning right I will actually see it turning south out of the farmstead where my wife was raised.

If a word thinker tells of the same incident, SOUTH is a just a WORD with a specific definition in additional words. It really doesn’t have a picture to go with it, but it does have a specific logic.

It is terribly difficult for a picture-thinker to communicate with a word-thinker, and vice-versa. I find that my worst communications are when I try to communicate across that void. As a picture thinker, I have a very hard time getting into the “defined” words smoothly.

Add to that, I was trained in math and science to think in words and numbers. The only pictures in math are in Plane Geometry, and Spatial (as in SPACE) Geometry (sometimes called “solid” geometry), and Trigonometry which is based on triangles.

On the eye-contact thing for ADD people; I have found myself focusing mostly on the mouth. I’ve never heard that attributed to ADD symptomology. (But then, why should I have heard of it, since ADDConnect is the first time I’ve found a “place” where there are other ADD people similar to myself.) As a result of my eye-contact issues, I have a terrible time with getting faces and names together. Sometimes recognizing old friends out of context is a real trial.

(My real first name
was taken here.
(I’m really named, Jack.))

Posted by Mack on Oct 30, 2013 at 12:01am

I have a similar problem. 
If I look at a person’s face and into their eyes while they are talking, I will notice EVERY detail of their face, eyes, hair, pimples, spectacles, collar, ear rings, scars, wrinkles, tie, necklace and so on.

I will either HEAR NOTHING, or I will hear a few words that are a jumble and don’t make sense.
But, I will often remember their face and may say Hello to them years later.

To avoid the distraction of their face, I write notes or may draw a diagram.  Then I summarise the conversation or the action items (if there are any).
Well, I try to do this as often as I can.  At work, I usually have a pen and paper handy.

I explain that I have a photographic memory, so I can remember the picture of my written notes or diagrams.
(I do not try to explain that I have ADD.)


Posted by Bob from Cootamundra on Oct 30, 2013 at 4:55pm

Hi - What wonderful letters above. Always wondered why I rambled on and on…..(now I know smile) Here’s a trick I learned in sales: If you look at someone’s earlobe, they THINK you are looking them in the eye. Don’t know how this helps with the concentration and understanding of what they are saying, but it does take some of the pressure off. Also this reminds me that as a professional mental health care person I once worked with an adult with severe autism. Having had no education or experience in this field I read about it and the best advice I got was ‘don’t expect me to have eye contact with you’ - written by an autistic woman! Also in many cultures, in therapy, eye contact is NOT expected or culturally accepted. As stated above, different strokes, etc. If its your boss, and your continued employment depends on it, look ‘em straight in the earlobe!! LauraLee

Posted by LauraLee on Oct 30, 2013 at 7:27pm

I was diagnosed recently at 48 and this is another aha moment.
One of the issues I have found when I have had the same problems meeting eye to eye is that culturally not looking someone in the eye meant that I had something to hide or were being untruthful. At best I had to be in extreme discomfort with the speaker and or subject. One of the key issues with dealing with my ex-spouse is that he would use wither I was making eye contact as a barometer if I were lying or trying to make up a story.
One more explaination for why I do what I do(and why he is an ex).

Posted by customdiva on Oct 30, 2013 at 7:50pm

In review of my message above, I realize that I may have stated one thing about neurolinguistics incorrectly—maybe not—so don’t take it too seriously without checking it out. To the point, the “word thinker” *may* go *DOWN* and off hand instead of how I stated it. I’ve never been able to find the top resources needed for studying it more clearly.

Jack (Mack)

Posted by Mack on Oct 30, 2013 at 8:08pm

In my first post above, I intended to note that for some reason, possibly because of the eye contact thing, I often have a really hard time recognizing even good friends when I see them out of context. Oh, the embarrassing stories I could tell about that.

Jack (Mack)

Posted by Mack on Oct 30, 2013 at 8:11pm

I’m a 37 yr old female & was diagnosed as ADHD a few months ago, and as I read this website, I discover more & more symptoms that explain my personality & strange behavior at times.

I didn’t think I had symptoms as a kid, but after reading this, I do realize that I had a really hard time looking people in their eyes. I still do but have gotten some better. But I have a hard time remembering things people say, so maybe I’m getting distracted like some other people are saying & not focusing on their words. Sometimes I focus too much on what I wanna say in response or else cut people off while they’re still talking. My mom would talk a lot and/or cut people off when I was a kid & I got to where I did too as I got older to try to get a word in edgewise, and now looking back I wonder if my mom was ADHD, too. My mom had problems with coworkers being slack & getting mad that she had to carry their load too, & I’ve been
that way, too. I care about doing a good job, but then totally resent other people who take advantage of my working hard. 

I know I’ve went way off point here, but I guess thinking out loud & realizing my mom could’ve been ADHD. There’s other things that are simiilar in our personalities too, like tendency towards depression, overly concerned with appearance (even though when I lost weight, I felt I got unwanted male attention, & later gained it back in some weird way that I need a bit of a wall of protection around me). I don’t have my mom anymore because she died over 10 yrs ago.

Anyway I’ve rambled too much already…thanks ADHD :/

Posted by shinchan on Oct 31, 2013 at 8:43pm

Yes, shinchan, you are right.  My father being from the Philippines, I am all too familiar with the whole lack of eye-contact being socially acceptable.  It is an Asian thing where the young don’t look the elderly in the eye.  It shows respect towards the elderly in the Asian culture as a whole.  Unfortunately, here in the US and many other western cultures, not giving eye-contact is looked down upon and is NOT socially acceptable as it shows lack of confidence in yourself.

Posted by tinalunior83 on Nov 03, 2013 at 5:24am

Sorry shinchan, I am using my phone while listening to football and posted in the wrong section.  It is the same topic, but meant for this to be on the other discussion board.  It looks totally irrelevant to your statement and again, I do appologize for that…lol.

Posted by tinalunior83 on Nov 03, 2013 at 7:06am

J’Mack (Roll with it… it’s sort of Star-Trek-ish!)

Well, you seem to have me pretty near to being pegged. For years and years I tested out as an INFJ.

More recently, since a car accident five years ago, in which I received a concussion with damage to the frontal and parietal lobes, I now test out as an INFP. I’m not certain in the concussion made the change or not, but that’s my theory.

An interesting side-note, but I have always had difficulty with organized religion. I did join and participate in it in my late teens to around 30-ish (56 now), but my belief in pretty much everything to do with my faith. I wandered in agnosticism for a while, but eventually found myself identifying in a general sense of those who would describe themselves as “pagan.” While some pagans have their own dogma-packed religions, my faith is more general in nature, but more *specific* when it comes to intuition. I’ve always been able to read people and see hidden agendas, genuine goodness, energy vampires, and all sorts… with almost perfect accuracy. Other pagans I knew were also extremely accurate in this sort of perception, as well as in their ability to sense “something” beyond the here-and-now, hence their willingness to commit to a relatively vague set of spiritual paths that all had one thing in common—they were all strongly intuitive about “stuff”... I guess the “universe” and the nature of humankind, our place in the world, etc.

So I did an experiment once when I was participating in a pagan online message group, and talked about 25 or so of them into taking the Keirsey Temperament Sorter (I didn’t tell them I was an INFJ). But guess what? Almost every one of them were either INFJs or Ps, and a few stragglers were still NFs. 25 people in one community, almost all the same personality type.. especially considering that INFJs and Ps only comprise 1 - 3 % of the human population. They all eschewed formal “big box religion” for a more personal, interactive form of spirituality. I’m not knocking any religion here, just tossing out an MBTI story that I think is fascinating. I’d be interested to hear your take on the situation.

Okay, back to responding to your comments…

I’m not 100% on your description on where the eyes go, or for that matter, whether I fully understand the difference between “word” or “picture” thinkers.  I don’t know if this tells you anything, but I’m considering a move to another country where I would need to become proficient in Spanish. So now, whenever I have a random thought, or sometimes in conversation, I find myself trying to translate everything from English to Spanish. I do sorta find myself picturing the actual words, sort of like a mental index card (a tool I used to use for learning languages). Languages generally come easy for me, and I’m at least partially fluent in Spanish, Russian, and Greek. But I think as I’m learning a given language (or any other topic), I do visualize the actual words… then taper off after I master them. But words, spoken TOO me, mean very little. If I can take copious notes and understand what I’m writing about, that helps—but that’s very typical of kinesthetic-dominant learners… the “act” of taking notes actually helps make the info stick. Pictures and diagrams and flowcharts, etc., go a long way toward helping me learn something of a process-related nature. If it’s task-based learning, I need to actually DO the task for it to become real to me.

Now, back to my horrible ex-boss, most of our conversations were adversarial in nature—she picked me for a target of abuse, but she picked the wrong guy—I stand up for myself in those situations… even if it doesn’t lead to good, solid job security. So even looking at her mouth or earlobe was out of the question. That doesn’t mean that my lack of eye-contact was something I reserved only for her, but pretty much any time I’m in a learning/processing/assimilating mode. So when she (or anyone else) is giving me instruction or feedback, my eyes tend to go down slightly and to the left (I’m right-handed). Does that tell you anything? I need to NOT be distracted by facial movements or any other things the other person is projecting (MBTI connection?—too sensitive to the excess stimuli?) in order to absorb the maximum amount of information.

Now, when I’m staring at my inanimate object and absorbing new “stuff,” a lot of imagery goes through my mind. I visualize the connections between either physical or logical subject matter… at least in a lecture-based learning event. I still prefer the hands-on approach to pretty much everything if I want it to “stick.”

Now, if you kindly share your feedback, does all of that make me a word person or a picture person?

BTW, I’m impressed that you nailed me as an INFJ… even if I do lean more toward the INFP side of things now. Tell me… do you think either frontal or parietal lobe damage could result in such a change, or do shifts like that just happen as we age?

Posted by Enterprizer on Nov 04, 2013 at 11:07am


I’m copying your text here to make sure I address everything. I’ll preface my response with three asterisks:

Masterchip said:
“I am curious though, what did you do education-wise and in what field is your job?”

*** I’ve been a classroom trainer in the military, and involved in pretty much every aspect of adult learning for the past 25+ years. I’ve managed training centers, I consider myself, overall, to be an “Instructional Designer,” where I basically apply what I know about learning theory to create quality course content. And BEING ADD, I tend to create ADD-friendly content. Lots of reinforcement, appealing to all types of learners (a misnomer, but let’s go with it for now). Along the way I’ve done technical writing, developing correspondence courses, creating online/classroom/blended learning offerings, conducting both small and large training-needs assessments & formulating a solution ( what is USUALLY a performance-based issue, OR an issue where previous training was inadequate). If you want to send me your e-mail address, I’ll share my LinkedIn page with you… it goes into a lot more depth about my career in adult training. FYI, my last job was with a government agency, and it had nothing to do with training; it was my doorway into the agency, where I hoped I’d eventually find something better suited to my talents. That doesn’t mean I didn’t give it my all, but I was subjected to the worst possible harassment and general abuse that I hesitate to discuss it here. I will say that my ADD played a fairly significant role in the loss of my job… and may well be the reason I prevail at mediation.

“I’m currently trying to get a math degree and I face pretty similar problems in terms of approaching learning the material (linear vs. radial approaches), and it’s discouraging to me,”

*** I know what you mean. I’ve never really given much thought to the linear/radial aspects of learning, but now that you mention it, THAT is the type of training development that I instinctively avoid, probably on a partially subconscious level, but also because of my knowledge of adult learning theory and sound instructional design principles. Do you think college instructors/profs know *squat* about instructional design/learning theory? Do you think they have any idea what comprises a valid test instrument? Do you think they run analytics on individual class results to help fine-tine their training?  Of course now… they teach because they have subject-matter knowledge… NOT because they have a clue about how and what to teach. And what I just described is part of the corporate training world, too, simply because most instructional design jobs are contracted out these days, and the lowest bidder (the “green” designers) get the jobs. The rest of us are “over-qualified.” Am I a better course designer now than I was 25 years ago? You bet your a$$ I am! And even though I don’t ask for the rates I deserve, I still don’t often get the job because .... well… let’s put it this way: How can a man over 50 POSSIBLY still be creative, vital, innovative, etc., when it comes to keeping the attention of young and vital corporate ladder-climbers? It doesn’t matter that I’ve won three international awards for my work in the field, or that I have stacks of student “smile sheets,” declaring my courses to be some of the best they’ve even taken. But I digress… grin

“...despite knowing my ability, if I can apply myself adequately, is higher than most of my peers. “

*** I guess I don’t have the expertise to speak to that statement as someone with ADD, but that absolutely IS the case for introverts. I wonder how many people with ADD are introverts and vice-versa?

“I staunchly believe that the current way we do things, in either education or at a workplace, is terrible for ADHD-types (and isn’t very optimal in the first place)...”

***If you read my response to J’Mack, I straddle the MBTI types of INFJ and INFP. For INFJs, anyway, one of the most highly recommended vocations is education. I used to know that many of us who filled those positions were indeed introverts, and probably had similar personality types. And we were/are good. But like I mentioned, the work is mostly being contracted out… and WHO do you think is going to make the best impression in an interview, especially when a “hot” project is on the line, and the delivery date was yesterday…?  Why, it’s going to be the extroverts and other non-intuitive types who make some of the worst course designers I’ve ever met. I’m not being petty here—I’ve seen this to be the case many times during my years in the profession. So… in a nutshell, you’re absolutely right. If recruiters and hiring managers don’t pull their heads out… the quality of both corporate and higher-level training is going to go right down the crapper.

” but I need to fit into society in some way, so I’m forced to find a way to fit. Personally I hope to have a profession where I interact heavily with people, such as teaching. - See more at:

*** You might just want to hurry up and take that test! I’m willing to bet you’ll test out similar to me. BTW, for those who wonder why an introvert (such as myself) is encouraged by my MBTI personality-type results to go into EDUCATION… It’s because still waters run deep. Intuition abounds. If it’s not right, we won’t rest until it is. Now, for an introvert to be successful in customer/student-facing sitituations, we FAKE it! We learn and learn about our topic before we teach it. We know what we’re going to say, when we’re going to say it, how we’re going to say it. When to tell what joke (or horror story), the ideal time to put everyone on break, etc. Practice/Preparation are a must, if indeed you are an off-the-scale introvert like me. And remember… introversion doesn’t mean shyness… so there’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t be successful in such a role.

I hope that response was helpful… I felt like I did a lot of rambling…

Posted by Enterprizer on Nov 04, 2013 at 11:43am


That’s a brilliant strategy. My last boss called me into the office to abuse me up to 3 - 5 times per day, and sometimes I wasn’t at my desk to grab a notepad… but next time I’ll make sure to carry one with me!

And ditto on the confusion looking at some old face that you don’t particularly care for anyway… Thank you for the validation.

Posted by Enterprizer on Nov 04, 2013 at 11:46am


That’s my take on it… it’s a stupid, nonsensical cultural expectation, it has nothing to do with my job (except make it harder), and nobody should be forced to do anything in a work environment that makes it difficult for them to perform their job, especially when you suffer from something like ADD… it’s called “disability discrimination/harassment,” and it’s illegal.

Posted by Enterprizer on Nov 04, 2013 at 11:49am


I have bad news for you… your diagnosis is accurate. hmmm

But I find that just *knowing* what my issues are allows me to find ways of accepting it, integrating mitigating strategies into my life, and finding ways to work around it.

I’m not 100% sure about the “talking over people” thing, as to whether it’s ADD/ADHD-typical, but I know I tend to do the same thing… and I do it because I’m afraid if I don’t say it “now” I’m going to forget what it was in a minute from now. grin  Kinda sounds like an ADD thing, eh?

Oh, like you, I didn’t know I was ADD when I was younger either (I never really was ADHD), but when I look back at my stuggles in school, I know now that I had it then. Then later, in my military days, all of the work I did was FIFO (first in, first out). I didn’t have project deadlines, quota, etc…. I just did my job, then when I finished what I was doing, the next piece of work was already waiting for me. It wasn’t until I entered the corporate world and DID have project deadlines, quotas, etc., etc., that I realized something was different about me. Maybe it was all the work I did on meaningless things, waiting until 3 days before a major deadline to work on the important stuff, and end up pulling all-nighters and weekenders to catch up. I had a psychiatrist confirm it, but I pretty much diagnosed myself using an online test. Hang in there! Learn all you can, because it’s true that knowledge is power.

Posted by Enterprizer on Nov 04, 2013 at 11:59am

Thanks for the excellent input, peoples! I’d love to hear more from each of you, or anyone else who’d like to chime in.

Posted by Enterprizer on Nov 04, 2013 at 12:01pm

With all the recent talk about eye contact and it’s importance on ADDconnect, I decided to see if I could find more information about it as it relates to ADHD. has a very interesting article on Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) that discusses how eye contact can actually disrupt focus. This is a very good read for all of you that find you focus better on a conversation when NOT looking the other person in the eye.

- See the other discussion on eye contact at:…_Is_it_a_big_deal/#reply-45102

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Nov 04, 2013 at 7:31pm

Outstanding, Penny! I’m going to check them out right now… they could have a genuine impact in my mediation case…

Posted by Enterprizer on Nov 05, 2013 at 10:02am

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Penny… this is invaluable info. I’m going to further run it past my psychiatrist and see if there’s any sort of evaluation for CAPD. Based on the article you linked us to, it would appear that I’m a pretty good candidate.

Thanks again!

Posted by Enterprizer on Nov 05, 2013 at 11:14am


It’s cool the way you renamed me, complete with the apostrophe. I thought of JMack, but it seemed—well, weird. I may just have to change my profile name. Actually, “M” is the first letter of my sirname; no more on that.

It’s very late, and I have to be up tomorrow to build a wheelchair ramp for a VERY disabled man across the river. Thus, I really need to get to bed. I do want to respond to your questions, but I just got the notice about them and I really need to get to bed.

Rattle my cage again if I don’t get back to you in the next 48 hours. A notice will come to my personal e-mail if there is activity on the issue.


Posted by Mack on Nov 05, 2013 at 11:50am

Enterprizer, Yes, you can be tested for CAPD, but it’s not your run-of-the-mill hearing test. You have to specify to be tested for this and search for someone who does this specific type of testing. I want to get my son tested and thought I was a year ago when I requested he be tested for CAPD, but it was just a glorified hearing test at the ENT. I still need to find the right doctor for this.

Good luck!

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Nov 05, 2013 at 7:29pm

Morning, I know for me personally I always keep a steady eye contact. If an conversation is of no interest to me, I do find myself losing eye contact and I let what’s going around, take my focus. My boss does little stuff to get me to stop continuing a focus eye contact!

Posted by Jjingram on Nov 06, 2013 at 5:37pm

Thanks, Penny… We have a pretty decent array of different off-the-wall specialists where I’m at, so maybe I’ll get lucky. grin  Good luck to you, too.

Posted by Enterprizer on Nov 07, 2013 at 12:42pm

Hi Jingram,

Sounds like we have the opposite things going on. The more I want or need to focus on something new (especially if I’m being dumped on), the better my concentration if I don’t try to keep eye contact too.  grin

Posted by Enterprizer on Nov 07, 2013 at 12:44pm

You have made me really think about my expectations from my son with this discussion on eye contact as well. I am constantly asking him to look me in the eye when I’m telling him something, especially instructions. I feel like that is how I know he is listening to what I’m saying and that eye contact affords the best likelihood of follow through. Now, I’m not so sure. I may have to allow him to not look at me when I speak to him and see what happens. grin

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Nov 07, 2013 at 9:36pm

If you want follow through on instructions with an ADD or ADHD person, write it down.
Making eye contact is almost irrelevant

Well, that works so much better for me.


Posted by Bob from Cootamundra on Nov 08, 2013 at 10:08am

I found myself telling my son to look at me again last night before imparting instructions. I caught myself and asked him if he feels like he can process and follow the information better if he looks at me when I’m talking to him or doesn’t. He said he does best when he looks away. It’s going to be hard for me to change my behavior, always asking him to look at me so I know he’s paying attention, but I am going to work hard at not requesting eye contact and see what happens. This makes me want to work harder at finding someone to do a CAPD evaluation for him too.

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Nov 08, 2013 at 6:21pm

I know what you mean, Penny. I don’t think any of my kids make eye contact in the types of situations you describe… and I know from just knowing them that they all suffer from ADD or ADHD.  The thing that really got me thinking about this is the cultural aspect of eye-contact… you just don’t do it in certain cultures unless you share a particular type of relationship with the person you’re talking to.

Here’s a link on the topic:

I also know it for myself, that forced eye contact when processing instructions or new information is simply not effective for me if I have to watch the eyes, nostrils, yellow teeth, pores in the nose, hairs growing from ear canals, zits, smudged lipstick, a wandering eye, a scar from a removed mole, hair coming from nostrils, OR a a really pretty, exquisite face as well… although I’m more likely in that case to peek a bit more frequently.

But do you see all of the little, eensy-teensy things that I (and I’m sure others) notice, start focusing on, and then forget half of what was just said?  How can I consciously fight against my revulsion regarding nose hair and listen to new instructions at the same time? I can’t.

So yeah… give the little guy a chance and see if he retains what you tell him when you allow him to focus his eyes elsewhere. Maybe alternate your approach a few times and figure out some way to gauge his retention both using/not-using eye contact. I have to admit that there are likely situations out there where lack of eye contact DOES cause a lack of focus, but with ADD/ADHD folks, you may have to enforce whichever method yields the best results, then go for it.

Now in my case, an adult who already knows how and why I’m able to focus best, nobody should be in a position to force me to go against my own grain. All those distracting facial characteristics I mentioned are from real-life… these are things that steal my focus away.  And, I have to admit, when I had a younger, prettier boss-lady, I probably over-indulged myself with eye contact… but always left her office, not quite sure what we talked about and how we left things. “Distraction,” however it manifests itself, is an enemy to ADHD victims. We owe it to ourselves to determine “best practices” for coping. I suppose the same thing goes for kids, though I would take additional steps to confirm that he listens AT LEAST as good without the eye contact as with it.

Posted by Enterprizer on Nov 08, 2013 at 6:36pm

Hey, J’Mack! Glad you’re not PO’ed about me playing with your name. I’m a bit of a trekkie, and it seems like half of the aliens they run across have name with an apostrophe or something in it. Besides… “J’Mack” kind of has a ring to it. wink

Posted by Enterprizer on Nov 08, 2013 at 6:39pm

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