Talking with her, even being in the same room with her, can be exhausting. I'm not sure I can explain why that is.
I think it's because her affect is that of a person in a rush or who at least isn't calm. That tends to spark off a sympathetic reaction, adrenaline flow, etc: "there's a fire somewhere!" in viewers.
Of course she is. Hyperfocus is a not-too-uncommon trait among ADHD people. I used to have it quite often when I was a kid. It's never voluntary.
I did not know that.
I know you said it wasn't voluntary, but is there any way to harness some of that?
That's a good question. I was being imprecise, because when it clicks, it's very much voluntary; you just can't turn it on or off. It's like being in the zone, so it comes with a mild dose of euphoria. Not always repeatable, but some people tend to be fairly regular when it comes to what sets off their hyperfocus. I found a good link, Hyperfocus and ADD
, which included a list of pointers.
[list][*] If you give her a task, give it to her fully-formed. Don't add or change or mix things up when she's in the middle of it.
I will definitely keep that in mind. Or breaking down a complex task into subroutines. Clear goal and concise directions, right?
Absolutely. The idea isn't to pre-chew the information, really, because she's able to do that herself: the idea is to reduce spurious ambiguity and internal contradictions.
Not questioning your expertise here, but her memory is actually above average, likely because she uses it as her main compensation for poor written language skills (verbal language is also excellent).
I see. That's the problem with diagnosing such things. ADHD is a grab bag of complimentary traits (you don't "have" ADHD, you're diagnosed with it), and I've very little experience with this end of the spectrum (dyslexia + memory). So I may not be as helpful as I'd like to be in that regard.
Now if she could just leave a voice mail without rambling into a dozen unrelated subjects... >sigh<
Probably also a problem with faceless one-way communication in general -- she's likely able to adjust slightly by reading her interlocutor for cues. I too tend to ramble in such situations, though nowhere near this degree.
By the same token, asking an ADHD person to prioritize under pressure without a clear priority may lead to congestion: since there's no clear order of precedence, the ADHD person can't properly order the tasks, so none of the tasks get done.
OK, that does
explain a few messes that have greeted me when I show up to work in the morning...
Unfortunately, there is a retail aspect to this job – meaning the general public. We all know what sort of nasty beasts the general public can be. I will try to be tolerant of her leaving that sort of mess.
That's all one can ask, really. I could write a step-by-step guide to how to make things progressively worse in that regard, because I remember that process unusually well from my childhood.
Aside from the extraordinary memory, she also has some well developed fact-to-face social skills. She can be quite personable and persuasive in conversation. Which is likely a factor in why she often is the best merchandise seller in any given week, she's got rad salesmanship skills. She is also ridiculously eager to be useful. That can work against her, when she takes on tasks she is not qualified or able to do in an attempt to be helpful.
Ah, I know denial. I can only speak for myself, but even today there's a lot of lingering resentment at my childhood at how I was treated. When you don't know why you're being treated this way or why you're different, and when no-one will allow for the fact that this isn't something you can help, you tend to reach the conclusion that outsiders are out to get you. That instinctive defensiveness may remain, and it can sometimes make it hard for you to accept constructive criticism or the idea that you're doing something wrong.
Again, this may be specific to myself, but the thing I've always found the most paralyzing is the idea of inevitability. All too often, I was told that "now you've screwed it up" with the subtext that there was nothing I could do to fix it
... and then I was asked to do something anyway. A better solution would probably have been to not frame it in terms of "you're a fucking retard who should feel bad" but "let's find a good way to fix this situation and get back on track."
The boss has asked me for feedback on what she does well, and is trying to keep her focused on tasks she actually does well. What she does well she does very very well. One of the problems is that what she doesn't do well she's horrid at but doesn't know that she's bad at it. She has this massive blind spot in that regard. The boss is giving her at least a half day of training a week (or trying to – it doesn't always work out) but has told me (whether she should or not) that really 3-4 hours of “Betty” is all she can take.
And that's okay, I think. It's far better to spend 3-4 hours teaching someone effectively and then going off for a break than being miserable for 4 additional hours when nothing gets done anyway. Dealing with ADHD may sometimes induce similar symptoms in people (i.e. mental tiredness), and a time-out is really not unreasonable.