Thursday, April 28, 2022

Blind as an ADHD Bat

Ever been so ADHD that you can’t see what you’re looking for, even when it’s right in front of your face?

I’m over here! (iPhone hiding in plain sight)

Given that ADHD has as many flavors as a bag of jelly beans, you might not all relate with ADHD tunnel vision. I, unfortunately, can’t say the same. If I had a jelly bean for every time something I was looking for was found right there in front of me, I could go into business and give Jelly Belly a run for their money.

Today, the missing item was my iPhone. I got up from the table, left the kitchen, then wondered where my iPhone had gone. I went downstairs and searched for it. My daughter called it. I visited every room of the home as I retraced my steps all over the place. I imagine I traced paths just as comically convoluted as any you can find in Family Circus. Finally! Finally. There was one room I hadn’t visited. The kitchen. And there was my iPhone. The ringer had been turned off, but it was right where I had been sitting at the table, hidden in plain sight, clear as the nose on the end of my face, lying on the table next to my empty glass of strawberry lemonade.

Was I blind? In a matter of speaking, yes.

Sometimes ADHD concentration can be narrow-focused. In fact, this tunnel-vision can be so tight that we can miss things sitting out in the open. Haven’t you ever looked for an item, rummaged all around, then found it in the first place you had looked in? “How could I have missed this?” you might think. It was what you were looking for, yet you couldn’t see it. As I’ve mentioned before, ADHD attention dysfunctions aren’t too different than what anybody else might experience except in frequency and flair.

I used to constantly lose my wallet and keys in stupid places. They couldn’t be more obvious if they were waving a sign, yet I’d still look right over them. This lack of attention is caused by information overload and a lack of impulse control. To find objects, our minds will phase out extraneous details as we scan over the environment for the item we are searching for. With ADHD folks, everything can be an extraneous detail when we’re preoccupied!

In general, I’ve found that if I’m mistaken about the color, shape, or presentation of the item I am looking for—as in I have a preconceived notion of the item’s appearance—I’ll even put my hands on it, but pass it right by. Wallets and keys are familiar objects, so we have a better chance of noticing them, but if we are distracted at the right moment, any object can become invisible to us.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for this particular myopia. For me, it’s as much a part of ADHD as distractibility. I know I can look forward to future scenarios where I lose my iPhone while it sits there on the bed or table and mocks me.

“Hey, Siri! Where are you?”¹
“Right in front of you, stupid.”
“Hey! Siri, you’re getting kinda cheeky lately.”
“Stop “losing” me then.”

To avoid imagined fights with Siri and other AI assistants in the future, I have come up with some tips that help me minimize the times I turn a blind ADHD eye to my belongings:

  1. Tidy up before you go: If I had cleaned up after myself before I left the table, I never would have misplaced my iPhone. I generally do this in public, but am lazier about it at home.
  2. Doublecheck, triple check…just check again, already!: Develop the habit of checking for your belongings before walking away from where you’ve been. I don’t want to make you neurotic, but this is a life-saving habit. I can’t recommend it enough.
  3. Bluetooth trackers: These l’il devices will save you so much headache and worry. I use Tile devices. I’ve attached them to my wallet, keys, and go bag. As long as you keep the batteries fresh, you’ll not worry again about where anything is. Now if only they made Tiles small enough to stick on my eyeglasses. I swear those things slip through dimensional pockets and reappear in random places.
  4. A place for everything, and everything in its place: Train yourself to place important items in specific locations. I’ve done this with my wallet and keys. They go in one place, and one place only. I almost never need to use the bluetooth trackers to find them anymore because I don’t lose them. My iPhone on the other hand…
  5. Take a deep breath, calm your mind, and look again: Once I become agitated and frustrated, it helps to take a second to center myself, then look again with fresh eyes. I usually see what I’ve been looking for soon after.

Developing these habits will help you become more mindful of where your possessions are, thus helping you get back up and running in a hurry. However, if you do find somebody handing out jelly beans for finding things in plain sight, please let me know. I’ve got a killer plan for taking over the confectionary world. Now, if only I could remember where I placed it.



  1. Yes, this phrase actually works. You have no idea how many times I’ve shouted it out this year. 😕 ↩