Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Get in the Zone

As I'm typing about my son's ADD and him getting in the zone, the jingle "Get in the zone, Auto Zone" is running through my head.  Just a random thought as I'm preparing to write about my son's ADD and him getting in his zone.  There is a term for getting in the zone -  "hyperfocus".

What does it mean to hyperfocus or get in the zone?  It means that a person is so engrossed in something that they will tune everything/everybody else out unless they are interrupted.

What does that mean for my son?:
1.  He can sit at the computer for hours on end playing a computer game without ever getting up to eat, drink, or take a bathroom break.
2.  He can spend hours working on foreign language (told you he loved it).
3.  He can spend hours watching the History channel or history related programming.
4.  He can spend hours "researching" on the Internet.  This jumping down rabbit holes is problematic when he actually needs to be researching something for school. He gets so distracted from looking up things related to his original topic that hours of research might mean he has only looked up one thing related to the topic. [This is something we are working on this year as he prepares to head to college next year.]
5.  Cleaning his room might mean taking everything off his cubby storage container because he focused on putting one thing away in the "perfect" place.
6.  He can be on his way to the bathroom and put his brakes on at our family calendar.  We call this getting sucked into the "calendar zone" at our house.
7.  He can be tasked with putting his clothes away, put one sock away, and watch hours of music videos on YouTube.  All because he wanted to listen to music while he put his clothes away.

You get the picture.  Things that are meaningful to him get done.  Things that are not meaningful to him are more difficult to complete.  We are all guilty of this.  We don't mind doing things we enjoy but put off things we don't like.  

The problem for S is the magnitude in which he attacks or avoids tasks.  He has to work on regulating himself so he doesn't get lost for hours doing one thing or getting lost for hours not doing something.  

Some strategies he uses include:
1.  For something enjoyable on the computer, setting the timer on his phone to go off after a specified time (longer time period).  For watching TV, he may establish that he will be done after watching a certain number of segments.  If we are home, he will ask us for verbal confirmation if he has watched too much or if it has been a reasonable amount of TV.
2.  For something less enjoyable (writing, putting clothes away, cleaning his room), we have talked about him using the timer on his phone to be set in 15 minute increments to evaluate if he is on task or to redirect himself at that point.  We have found that to be a reasonable amount of time because he doesn't lose a lot of work time if he wanders off during 15 minutes. 3.  Finding something enjoyable to do after doing something less enjoyable.  Example:  He enjoys doing foreign language for school.  We have him save that task to do after his other subjects which he finds less enjoyable.  He has something to look forward to doing.  Also, if he gets in the zone while doing the more enjoyable thing, he's not neglecting other work at that point since it has been completed.
4. Use techniques he identified for himself when he created his ADD Journal.

I'm going to get in my zone now - on the couch with chocolate.


  1. Loved this post...I feel like I learned so much. I have a couple of friends who have sons with ADD and ADHD (still learning the difference) You just explained this so well...I am going to pass your post along to them!

    1. Thanks! It has been a learning process. We are getting there. We just want him to have techniques to be successful in whatever he does.

  2. Thanks for sharing - I have a daughter who was diagnosed with ADHD when she was younger - (She also has Apsergers) I have to say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree though - there are times when mid sentence I will get distracted and blurt something out - then she gets to make fun of me for for ADD.

    We have used the timer method very successfully with her for years and she still uses it today in high school when she has a project she doesn't want to do.

  3. As an autistic flutist, I admit that I hate metronomes. They remind me of clocks, which make me anxious. However, they are necessary for my musical benefit and improvement.