Audiobooks and ADHD | riot book

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Like many women, I was diagnosed with ADHD late in life, at the age of 37. It took referrals, perseverance, rejection, excellent public insurance, and many months to get a diagnosis. And that was for a middle-class, self-assured white woman. Women of color have an even harder time getting diagnosed. I was both relieved and filled with rage. My life could have been so much easier! I could have ended the constant mantra in my head wondering what was wrong with me. What was wrong with me that I couldn’t do what was easy for my colleagues? What was wrong with me that I was an English student and hadn’t finished a book in college? What was wrong with me that I wanted to be a reader but couldn’t read? Continue until nausea.

Audiobooks saved my life long before I had my diagnosis, long before I was comfortable enough with who I was to stop hiding. I discovered them just when I was getting divorced while living in a foreign country, isolated from any friends or family. Audiobooks have kept me company and sane. Since my diagnosis, however, I’ve gone from falling in love to falling in love with them.

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I can’t speak for everyone with ADHD, obviously, because it manifests differently for different people, but audiobooks have been a game changer for me. Once I got into audiobooks, the number of books I read per year doubled. I’ve written before about how that number more than doubled when I started reading romance, but what I didn’t mention is that almost all the romance I’ve read this year was in audio.

The breakdown

There are three types of ADHD: predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, predominantly inattentive, and combined. The hyperactive-impulsive is the type people traditionally think of when a person can’t sit still, stop talking, interrupts, is loud, and has trouble controlling impulses. Inattentiveness is the type that is often found in girls and women. Its symptoms include “careless” errors, missing details, forgetfulness, difficulty following instructions, difficulty staying organized, resistance to starting tasks that require mental energy, and frequent loss of possessions. . Many of these symptoms in women are considered traits, such as being shy or talkative, rather than the symptoms they are. Also, they usually present alongside other conditions such as anxiety or eating disorders, which may have overlapping symptoms.

Listen and move

One of the biggest benefits for me is that I can listen while I move. I have been diagnosed with combined type ADHD and I have tremors as well as daydreaming. I am able to sit still and read for long periods of time, but after a while I start to feel physically uncomfortable. I’m agitated and feel an uneasiness that settles behind my sternum and the back of my knees. Itching to get up and move. I also have trouble sitting down and concentrating on reading when there are chores or other things to do around the house. They distract me. Doing both at the same time makes my body feel good.

Additionally, matching these activities significantly helped with executive dysfunction. Doing something physical while listening helps me remember what is happening in the story. It improves my ability to multi-task and do two things at once helps combat time blindness – the inability to be aware of time and its passage, something innate in most adults. More than anything, it helps with self-motivation. It’s not uncommon for weeks of clean laundry to pile up in the hamper, unfolded because I can’t think of a more tedious task. Pairing folding laundry with listening to my current reading not only makes it tolerable, but also provides good motivation. I won’t let myself do one without finishing the other.

Listening to audiobooks in the car helps me focus while driving. The temptation to stare at my phone, text while driving, or let my mind wander in boredom and not pay attention to what I’m doing lessens. It’s not without its risks, however. I missed a freeway exit more than once because I was so engrossed in my audiobook. However, missing an exit is much better than missing the car in front of you has braked.

Anxiety

It is very common for people with ADHD to also suffer from anxiety. It is more common for women to have a comorbidity – combination of conditions, especially anxiety, while also having ADHD. The ability to easily focus my thoughts on something without the frustration of having to sit too long or reading and re-reading the same three paragraphs over and over has eased my anxiety considerably. When I’m particularly overwhelmed or feel like I’m in a thought spiral I can’t escape, listening to an audiobook while walking the dog helps me break the spiral and complete the stress response cycle. Another way to do this is to sit with a coloring book while listening to audiobooks. Coloring books have been shown to be effective in reducing stress. For me, the calming nature of the coloring plus the movement and story to focus on takes me from ten to zero quickly.

I’m a librarian and I read a lot for my job, often on schedule. While deadlines and timing help, the urge to resist tasks that can be mentally taxing is a symptom of the ADHD I have. Combine a deadline with a book that I know won’t be easy to read, and it’s extremely hard for me to get started. Audiobooks make it less daunting for me because I know it’s probably going to be an enjoyable experience overall, even if the subject matter is more difficult.

Read the hard stuff

I’m a librarian and I read a lot for my job, often on schedule. While deadlines and timing help, the urge to resist tasks that can be mentally taxing is a symptom of the ADHD I have. Combine a deadline with a book that I know won’t be easy to read, and it’s extremely hard for me to get started. Audiobooks make it less daunting for me because I know it’s probably going to be an enjoyable experience overall, even if the subject matter is more difficult.

It keeps books in my hand much longer than those I have to read with my eyes. Add a good narrator and I’m hooked longer than I would for a book I didn’t like. I quickly gave up visual books because it was hard enough for me to focus on them under perfect conditions. And now that the author is throwing around words I don’t know the definition of and making endless remarks, I’m definitely putting it aside. However, listening will often immerse me in the story or topic in a way that I wouldn’t if I had read it.

I know I don’t need to repeat this to you all, but the question has to shift from “do audiobooks matter?” to “should audiobooks matter more?”

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