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Discussion on: I have ADHD 🌧️

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yougotwill profile image
William Grant

Awesome post! Out of curiousity for the ADHD programmers reading this do you have any advice for practising problem solving and interview preparation (i.e. LeetCode, Hackerrank, etc.) I really try to sit down and practice but my progress is really slow and my mind just refuses to retain information. In contrast ask me to build something and I'm going at 150% from the start. Currently looking for jobs but the initial coding problems keep getting in the way of me showing my full abilities to a potential employer.

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p810 profile image
Payton Bice

Something that really helps me when I can't focus is listening to repetitive music. For example, I really like the Animal Crossing soundtrack, and there are videos on YouTube where the songs are looped for anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour. Most days I'll put those on and it helps. Songs that I know well and have listened to many times also qualify, because they become a kind of energizing background noise, but most of the time I try to avoid anything with lyrics. I also include caffeine, which works similarly to prescription drugs (i.e. stimulants such as Vyvanse) or pressure because it stimulates the areas of the brain in which people with ADD are deficient; with ADD, a lack of stimulation is the primary issue when it comes to executive dysfunction. However, because caffeine is so abundant and available in many first world countries, many people develop a tolerance early on in life, causing it to lose effectiveness unless one decides to take a tolerance break or up their dosage. Lately L-theanine has become popular because it potentiates the focus enhancing effects of caffeine, and reduces the negative side effects like anxiety. I've gotten a good bit of benefit from taking these supplements with my caffeinated drinks and definitely recommend it.

When it comes to memorizing and retaining information, I like to make flash cards for terms and ideas that are new to me, and core concepts relating to the tool, language, etc. that I'm learning. This causes me to take a break from what I'm reading to repeat the information back to myself through writing. Then I can quiz myself throughout the week by shuffling the cards into a random order, drawing them sequentially and saying the definitions out loud to myself. For example in my Rust stack I have a card titled "Ownership." When I draw this card I'd say something like: "Each variable has an owner. The owner is the scope that the variable belongs to. Variables are transferred into a new scope or copied depending on how they're passed to a function," etc., and then compare what I remembered of it to the notes on the back. If it's something I got wrong, or I missed an important aspect, I'll prioritize practicing on that thing.

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kspeakman profile image
Kasey Speakman Author • Edited

One thing that works for me (discovered by accident) is to be passively angry about something. It has worked for me twice now. It is enough to focus my mind and also not really care about the consequences of the interview. This in turn relieves some of the interview anxiety which means I approach it more relaxed.

This works for me since my variety seems mostly to be the inattentive kind, but it might backfire if your ADHD is the impulsive and/or hyperactive kind. (Edit: after official diagnosis, I have combined type. I guess my temperament is just more passive, so this method works for me.)

I haven't managed to schedule an interview around this, but I do sometimes have days where I feel "normal". (Actually I would describe such days as euphoric, but the therapist says it is how most people feel normally.) If you also have those, they seem like good days to have an interview if you can manage to get one on short notice. They haven't lasted long enough for me to do so.

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yougotwill profile image
William Grant

I kind of know what you mean. I think that has happened to me unconsciously a few times when I'm in the zone at work. I'll try and use it actively as you suggest.

I also have the so called 'normal' days. Sadly 2020 hasn't had too many of them.

Thanks again for this insightful post!