Another ADD mile with Kludgy Technology

A mile in ADD/EFD shoes:
The impact of Kludgy Assistive Technology
on Functional Expectations


by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another post in the Walking A Mile in Another’s Shoes Series

Today’s post started out to be a thought piece.

That is not to say that other posts are unthinking, simply that I had hoped to take you with me on my internal journey as I wandered through an accumulation of impressions gathered during a 10-day bout of Sleeping Sickness.

Sleeping seemed to be its primary symptom — insofar as I can remember — sleeping ’round the clock in a drug-haze as oracles of HULU reruns wafted through my dreams like prowlers.

Too bad there were no drugs.

Feeling better, thank you

For the first time in almost two weeks, I have energy remaining after a trek from bed to bathroom. In fact, I feel relatively lucid for the first time as well. I’ve certainly eliminated all vestiges of sleep debt!

  • I was fairly certain I would be able to manage remaining upright in a computer chair and staring at a screen as my fingers revealed my thoughts to me.
  • I gave it a test run by checking in on several of the blogs I follow, reading their content, adding a “like” here and a comment there, clicking a few links to places I’d never been, sampling a bit of strange.

Post upon post, the blogs along my serendipitous journey began to form a shape that seemed to be cut from whole cloth.

It felt decidedly like an aha! was hiding among the snippets I pocketed as I wandered from blog to blog, catalized by revelations from television writers of seasons past.

Intractable stuff – suspended in a haze of dream-time that refused to come into sharp focus.

My internal GPS was set to take us to an unknown location of freshly-pressed awareness that would have revealed itself to you as it did to me.


UNTIL, that is, WordPress began misbehaving and stopped me cold.


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The shifting sands of erratic technology

Until and unless it becomes “transparent to the process,” technology will always be the arch-enemy of “thinking on paper” – which is to say, as one writes. My original thoughts have now been ambushed and taken prisoner by an evil band of Bad WordPress Fairies.

Kludge City, here in WordPress Land. It rarely works reliably the same anymore. Practically DAILY, some little niggling something hijacks blogging’s intent, holding it hostage to fiddling with the platform and exchanging frustrated emails with “Happiness Engineers” who seem to have “clear cache, delete cookies, try another browser” on speed-dial.

Am I the only one who would rather hear a nice clean “Don’t bug us, we really don’t want to be notified of problems on our platform?!”  Really.  At least it would close the loop.

For those of you who don’t blog on this platform, “Happiness Engineer” is what WordPress calls their tech support people.  (Kind of jerks one’s head around, doesn’t it? — like “peace-keeping missile.”)  Labeling it so does not make it so.

Anyway, I have always conceptualized fiddling with technology as I attempt to “think on paper” as similar to trying to write a novel with a quill pen using a series of one-drop ink wells wrapped in child-proof packaging.

Not only does it destroy intentionality of focus,
it sucks the joy from the process of writing,
turning it into one more time-consume chore.

I’m an unusually tenacious ADDer, but after 4-6 hours of nonsense I simply must give up and move on, since sharing my information doesn’t come with a paycheck.

Did I remember to mention that the writing itself is never the problem?  That being detained by multiple technological roadblocks is the ONLY writer’s block I have ever experienced?

BOY do I wish the entire tech-universe would get their “continual ‘improvements'” acts together!  And I fervently pray that if that mythical day EVER arrives it would be without changing the user interface.  (But that’s about as likely as my winning the lottery, I suppose – highly unlikely,  since I don’t buy lottery tickets)

WordPress has promoted their intention to improve the editing process in their next release – giving a lot of attention to user interface and workflow processes. Help me Hannah and cross your fingers!  Pray that that the new version doesn’t taketh away as much as it threatens to giveth.

I’m seriously losing my mind already, can’tcha’ tell?

Didn’t it used to be some kind of a maxim in the coding universe: don’t mess with the user interface capriciously?

It most certainly was when I was a computer pro, in any case — back in the dark ages when change and improvement were not synonymous in the minds of the decision-makers

— back when there were beta-testers other than the unsuspecting community of users hoping to accomplish something besides learning new ways to maybe get the job done DESPITE technical glitches.

In any case, WordPress wrangling seems to have beaten all expectations of ease of functionality out of me today. I’ve reached the point where I’d settle for something as mundane as being able to use my choice of browser once again — without losing content simply because they haven’t been able to stabilize their @#$% log-in script for Safari for THREE SOLID MONTHS NOW.

Would that were the ONLY thing that was kludgy with tech – we haven’t even ventured into the land of cell phones, operating systems, or wireless peripherals.  I no sooner get it all together with systems working on auto-pilot than somebody begins the beguine with the next iteration of the process.

Would that I could super-glue their little “upgrade” fingers to their desks.

~~~~~ Segue & Snacks ~~~~~

Since I began with the intent of exploring functional expectations –  let’s make some WordPress Lemonade!

You may have to bring your own sugar;  I began this post at midnight yesterday, budgeting two hours max.I put myself back to bed at 6 AM.  With more than a little concern for my schedule, I return this evening – hoping to finish what I started before dawn.

I believe an explanation of WHY these glitches become stoppers for some of us might just stitch this sow’s ear into some kind of useful purse.

The tangles of technology

I know I’m not the ONLY one who gets “testy” untangling technical snafus.

I happen to have it on good authority, however, that some of you manage to do it without periodic breaks to Google “explosives,” contemplating the most effective way to blow a computer to smithereens.

I PROMISE that those of you who also contemplate serious harm to your very own computers have ADD, EFD, TBI or one of the other “alphabet disorders.”

  • It’s practically diagnostic (even though my emissary to the DSM-5 caucus lost the coin toss, so it didn’t make it into the latest addition).
  • NOR did the DSM politicians seriously consider vociferous objections to that “H” thing, by the way.
  • Ay me, at least another generation of girls, women and hypo-actives floundering around unnecessarily under-functioning won’t be on MY conscience. (CLICK HERE for ADD: What’s in a Name? if you want to read all about it.)

Digressing back through functionality frustrations

When the clutch on your executive functioning tends to slip, computer technology crosses the line into the territory ofassistive  technology” – like a wheel-chair ramp for those who can’t walk. Disaster lurks with every break in flow.

Uneven sidewalks and parked cars that block access to entrance ways are a nuisance for most of us – but the wheelchair bound NEED level surfaces to navigate.

  • It’s not quite the same request to ask them to navigate around cracks in the sidewalk or to “squeeze past” a selfishly parked vehicle.
  • Depending on how many such obstacles they’ve managed to navigate around by the time they hit the new one, their emotional reactions might easily run the gamut from fury to despair.  Yours would too.

Computer technology functions as an externalized PFC (Prefrontal Cortex), if you will – a compensatory strategy that fills in a few gaps collectively referred to as “short term memory deficits.”

  • Card carrying members of Club-ADD struggle with activation, intentionality and follow-through to completion — implications of executive functioning dysregulations.
  • Transitions are tough for most of us, and the distraction load can be close to toxic long before we hit the first technological crack in the sidewalk.

Computers and smart-phones and electronic reminders systems are Assistive Technology, augmenting our short-term memory buffers with the type of ram you can buy in a store.

Assistive Technology refers to “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities” ~ Wikipedia

Attempting to work around technology glitches and “improvements” is like trying to walk using an artificial limb with a trick knee.

  • There are only so many times we are willing and able to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off before we give up and head home in defeat.
  • Every single time we’re forced to stop, we struggle to force ourselves to begin again.
  • Every time we think about turning down a metaphorical pathway where there has been ongoing construction, frustration begins to mount before we’ve even made the turn.

Advising us to “think positively” is rubbing salt into an open wound. You’d be surprised how many people think that salt speeds healing.


Think about your car for a moment.

Try to remember how difficult it seemed to remember everything you had to keep in mind when you were first learning to drive.

Years later, you “just drive” — it’s on autopilot.

  • Your body knows where the ignition is located,
  • You have adjusted the seat and mirrors so that they are perfect for you
  • You can turn on your headlamps or wipers without even taking your eyes off the road.

Now think about the process when you drive somebody else’s car for the first time.  Oh sure, it only takes a minute or two to familiarize yourself with the changes, but what if you are already running late?

What if you had to drive your neighbor’s car because your own wouldn’t start and your kids were waiting to be picked up at a school that had strict rules about parental pick-up windows?

Anonymous_simple_weather_symbols_13What if it started to rain while you were speeding down the highway, and you couldn’t figure out how to turn on the wipers by feel alone?

You mentally kick yourself for deciding not to take the time to locate the wiper switch before you set out, gambling that the sunshine would hold for another thirty minutes, praying that rush hour traffic wouldn’t have begun just yet, focused only on picking up the kids “on time?”

NOW how do you feel about that “minute or two?”

Imagine that a little rain quickly turns into a thunderstorm.  You simply cannot continue to drive until you pull off the road and figure out how to turn on those blankety-blank wipers.

rgesthuizen_Analogue_mobile_phoneImagine that, next, your cellphone begins to ring — and it takes you a moment to locate it in the jacket you threw into the back seat of the car in your rush to get to the kid’s school.

Not quite so cool, calm and collected at this point, are you?

Oh no, it is a call from the school.  Where ARE you?  Your children are the ONLY ones waiting to be picked up and it is extremely inconsiderate to keep the supervising teacher from getting home to her own family.

You explain your situation and they “make an exception” this ONE time, as long as you understand you can’t make a habit of it.  NOW how do you feel as you pull out into the driving rain, proceeding as rapidly as safely possible?

Oh no, an accident!  You’re stuck until they clear the roadway.  You dial the school to explain why you will be further delayed. The tone of annoyance in the voice that answers the phone is unmistakable. “Well when DO you expect to arrive?”

How can you possibly give them an accurate estimate?

  • How happy do you imagine the voice at the other end will sound when you reply, “I have no idea – I’m stuck until the roadway is unblocked?”
  • How will you react to a lecture about the pick-up rules when you arrive an hour later?
  • How patient are you likely to be when your children complain about how long they had to wait?
  • How will you be likely to respond emotionally when your spouse opines that it was stupid and a danger to the kids to set out without knowing how to operate the car?

NOW, imagine that your mechanic tells you that your car will have to be in the shop for at least a week – possibly longer, since he has to order parts.

You can’t afford a rental, you can only arrange a carpool for two of the days, and you have to make plans to borrow a succession of cars from your generous friends and neighbors to manage

Your spouse will not be returning from an out of town business trip for two weeks.

  • How early do you have to begin the process to make SURE that you arrive at school within the pick-up window, especially when you hear that snow is in the forecast?

Hmmm – not so simple to plan your schedule anymore, is it?
Still cool, calm, collected?

  • Tell the truth – how badly do you want to strangle your spouse when s/he tells you to “think positively” as you call to verbalize your worry about the impact on the rest of your schedule for what is, after all, a temporary situation?

Deja Vu all over again

NOW how do you feel when you receive the call that one of the carpool arrangements has fallen through on the day OF the arranged pick-up? Oh sure, you have a few hours’ notice to make other arrangements, but how long will you have to clear your schedule to make a few more last-minute calls to borrow a car for an additional day?

What if, after an hour of dialing, the only way you will be able to pick up those kids is to rent a car or call a cab?  What if, after another thirty minutes of calling rent-a-car businesses, you have been unable to locate a rental, so a forty dollar round-trip cab ride is your ONLY option at this point?

  • Which bill do you plan not to pay to make room in your budget for this little unexpected expense?
  • When do you plan to attend to the tasks you had to postpone while you were making new arrangements?

How calmly are you waiting when the cabbie has not arrived to pick you up at the appointed time, and how are you feeling when he arrives 15 minutes later, meaning you may be – once again – late picking up your kids?

  • How difficult is the process of “making a simple decision, for heaven’s sakes” as you wonder whether to warn the principal or pray for a traffic miracle?
  • How hard is it to respond appropriately when you receive reminder number three about the pick-up rules?

You were ONLY fifteen minutes late, and you can not reasonably be held accountable when your functionality is at the effect of a situation beyond your control – even if the situation were to repeat itself multiple times over the remainder of the time before your car comes out of the shop.

You DID, however, cause a problem for others because you DID, after all “fail to observe the rules.” 

And we all know how important it is to take responsibility, don’t we?

  • Tell the truth – NOW how badly do you want to strangle your spouse when s/he explodes over the fact that you won’t be able to pay every single bill on time this month – even though you PROMISED that it would never happen again following the one-and-only time all of the bills were late.

How come? Well, you neglected to transfer that month’s batch of envelopes from tote to mailbox on your way to work.  You didn’t give a thought to grabbing your jacket from the closet on your way out the door that suddenly unseasonably warm Friday afternoon that began a long weekend.

You gasped in horror when you saw the jacket and tote as you hung up your raincoat the following Tuesday, but by then, the damage was done.

Is it possible that s/he REALLY believes that you didn’t try hard enough to “make a more responsible decision” about getting the kids home from school?

Looking forward to the next day’s adventure, are we?  Calmly finding work-arounds when every day brings new transportation challenges that further decimate your schedule, as a deliverables deadline looms ever closer?

Easily making “a simple decision, for heaven’s sakes” about whether or not to warn your boss that you might miss your deadline — and how much detail to include in your explanation?

Cause and Effect

Most of us count on having reliable transportation – it’s a sort-of “assistive technology” for the lives we have put together.

When access to reliable transportation suddenly becomes less likely, depending on how many obstacles we’ve managed to navigate around by the time we’ve hit a new one, our own emotional reactions might easily run the gamut from fury to despair.

AND, I’d like to remind you, this is, after all, a temporary situation.

What if YOUR life-long experience was similar to that Ground Hog Day movie – having to COUNT on unreliable “assistive technology” in any number of arenas to attempt to keep your life from becoming a planning nightmare every time one or another technological helpers did not work as expected?

I would imagine that the least you might expect from those who claim to love you would be a bit of awareness of how much harder you have to work to keep things running on schedule — and an innate understanding of how frustrated you must be every single time you are unable to do so because reliable functionality is at the effect of a situation beyond your control.

Walking that mile in ADD shoes

I hope that you will remember this little scenario the next time your ADD beloved “lets you down.”  Again.

Try to keep in mind that, in a life filled with work-arounds, they cannot reasonably be held accountable when their functionality is at the effect of a situation beyond their control — even if the situation were to repeat itself multiple times over the remainder of the time before . . .  oh, wait.

Their “car” will NOT be “coming out of the shop” at the end of ten imaginary days. 

They are looking at jumping through multiple “transportation” hoops every single day, possibly for the remainder of their lives.

Interesting perspective, yes? Hang on to it the next time you’re tempted to do or say anything simply to get rid of the impact of their “transportation challenges” on your life.

  • I hope that reading through this article will make it easier, for example, to refuse to give in to the temptation to deliver another unnecessary reminder of the negative impact on YOUR life whenever they “break the rules,” keeping  you waiting beyond your “pickup window.” Again.
  • I hope it will make it even a little bit less likely that you will consider his or her, shall we say, testy moods an “over-reaction” as some new struggle must be worked around.  Again.

I really hope it might encourage you to jettison all forms of “over-react” from your spoken vocabulary.

  • Like our imaginary out-of-town spouse, none of you may be able to offer much practical advice or be able to “fix” the problems that will continue to come up.

However, I trust you can relate to the reality that a little understanding will go a LONG way toward encouraging your ADD beloveds to be willing and able to pick themselves up and dust themselves off  — before they give up and head home in defeat.

  • A willingness to educate yourself about the functional implications of an EFD/ADD/TBI diagnosis will go even farther – whether you are the “neurotypical” parent or partner, or the one with the diagnosis yourself.

MAKE the time to click the related links below, and
read the articles here on

Information won’t change the implications of the diagnosis,
but understanding them just might change your life.

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

One Response to Another ADD mile with Kludgy Technology

  1. Pingback: Is technology “improving” itself beyond usability? | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

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