Selective Hearing with ADD and ADHD

Image courtesy of Michal Marcol /
Image courtesy of Michal Marcol /

I’ve been working with Janet for around two months. Our sessions are very entertaining, but Janet has a tendency of hearing what she wants to hear, or as it is commonly known, selective hearing. I find this to be common with people dealing with ADD, ADHD and Executive Functioning concerns. It certainly puts many of us in difficult predicaments.

Janet is a text-book case of ADHD. In addition to this, she is also off-the-charts in her intelligence and abilities. But, she isn’t living up to her ability level (remember, I hate the word potential). This has led her parents to seek answers and help for Janet. While Janet has strong abilities, she doesn’t like rules or structure. It’s not that she’s a bad kid, but she’s a kid that will do the things she wants to do without really thinking about the results. For example, Janet regularly challenges curfew. She knows it’s wrong but does it anyways.

These types of decisions cause Janet to have regular conflicts with her parents. Instead of recognizing her contribution to this problem, she feels that her parents do not understand her. What I’ve noticed with Janet is that when an adult tells her something she doesn’t agree with, she will talk over the adult. It is her way of creating conflict to avoid conflict.

Janet is not a victim in all of this. I do believe she’s valid in her feelings of being overserviced this summer. In addition to our work, she is also seeing several other professionals. She doesn’t understand why she has all of these meetings and is feeling overwhelmed. When she tries to express this to her mother, she is getting resistance.

As the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. In the case of Janet, she has things in common with her mother. Both are intelligent, head-strong and have a difficult time seeing things from the other’s point of view. This puts her father in the middle of the conflicts. He tries to help both but gets caught in the fire.

Here’s how I’m approaching this situation. I want Janet to get her thoughts down on paper. At this point, a conversation with her mother is nearly impossible. I am also going to meet with her mother and discuss what I am seeing from Janet and offer the same suggestion to her mom. That way, instead of talking over one-another and not listening, their collective thoughts will be on paper and available to each other.

This problem is not going to be fixed over-night. But the lack of effective communication between Janet and her mother is putting additional stress in her life. People with ADHD need to control as many stressors as possible, but these types of situations put us on information overload. It will hurt performance and make things more difficult. Janet needs to get as much control of this situation as possible or it will continue to be a strain on her both physically and emotionally. These letters should be a start to improving communication.

For more information on my ADD, ADHD and Executive Functioning coaching, please visit In addition to working with clients in-person, I also work with clients all over the United States and World online, please visit for more information. To learn more about my other services, please visit & I can be found on Twitter at ADHDGuru. You can also find me on Facebook, Google Plus and Tumblr. Feel free to email me at [email protected] or call 877.398.ADHD (2343) with any additional questions.

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