Sunday, January 1st, 2012

By BETH GALVIN/myfoxatlanta

ATLANTA – Do you get sidetracked easily? Do you have trouble following a conversation? If that sounds anything like you, you could have adult ADHD.

Experts used to think children diagnosed with attention deficit problems would outgrow them.  But only about a third of them do. Most distracted kids become distracted adults.

And ADHD can affect your relationships, your ability to hang onto a job – and pretty much every aspect of your life.

Most of Darin Bush’s life, his mind has jumped around faster than his Jack Russell Terriers, Mullberry and Milo.

“I literally had no idea what I was doing, or why I was doing it, how it affected people. I couldn’t focus on tasks that I knew I needed to focus on. Life was a constant disruption and frustration,” said Darin Bush.

Now 45, Bush was 22 before he was finally diagnosed with ADHD.

“I was looking, I was searching, I was begging for some explanation other than I was an idiot, or I was crazy. I found out it was neurological, that it wasn’t a personality problem, it wasn’t a behavioral problem,” said Bush.

For about eight million American adults, staying focused is a huge challenge. And important things, like remembering to pay the bills, fall through the cracks.

“It’s trying very, very hard to get things done, and getting lost in the mire,” said ADHD counselor Joan Teach.

Joan Teach, a special educator who works with adults with ADHD and has been diagnosed with the disorder herself, says there are clues you might be struggling with it,

“Failing to complete tasks, not being on time, never having enough time to finish. Many times, another clue is losing job after job after job,” said Teach.

If you think you might have ADHD, Teach says the first thing you need to do is get a good diagnosis.

Teach says medication may help, and a support group or therapist can teach you skills to overcome distractions.

Teach says little things have helped her, like using a fish tank to drown out background noise, setting a timer to break up longer tasks, and writing ideas down so she doesn’t get sidetracked.

Teach says it’s about finding what works for you.

“The biggest thing you have to remember is if it doesn’t work one way, try another way,” said Teach.

Darin Bush says staying focused is constant struggle.

“I have friends who don’t have ADHD who (say), “Well I lose track of attention every once in a while. I say, “Yes, but I have trouble keeping attention all the time, every time,” said Bush.

But, by getting help and learning coping skills, Bush is writing his own happy ending.

“I just have this thing that makes me different from most people. And it’s no big deal. I just keep going. I think the saddest thing about ADHD is all of the people who just don’t want to find out. They don’t realize how much better their life could be,” said Bush.

Some other signs you might have adult ADHD: you constantly feel restless, can’t follow conversations, have poor time management skills, you’re chronically late and have difficulty completing simple tasks.

If you find yourself going “check, check, check,” find a professional and get an evaluation.