ADHD in 4 Books came out of the Independence + Authorship project in Grad Studio I (Spring). For this project, we were encouraged to explore our own experiences by creating a project without much of a prompt. This project went through multiple iterations and ideas before taking its final form of four spiral bound booklets detailing my experience with ADHD through an exploration of form.
When starting this portion of the project, I had the idea to create a series of mini-projects to echo the phenomenon of people with ADHD picking up hobbies only to become disinterested in them. What I thought would be the first of a series of mini-projects was a collection of stickers intended to call out the sensory issues I experience because of my ADHD. I wanted to create something that would call out things that my brain will focus on automatically (and not be able to drop) but other people may need to be prompted to focus on. I guess the purpose may have, in a way, been to annoy people so they could experience what I experience on a daily basis.
I realized that I needed a direction and a mode of presentation for my stickers, and I also realized that creating many completely different mini projects was going to be a tall order.
I decided to make a series of books rather than a series of mini projects, the first book being a way to present my stickers. Each book portrays a symptom or aspect of my ADHD experience.
Each of the four books begins with an article about the ADHD symptom that the book focuses on and then uses form to describe my personal experience.15
The first book in the series started as a way to present my stickers. I took pictures of the stickers in context and then image traced them. My spreads in the book were set up with the image trace on the left side and an envelope with the sticker in it on the right side. I then added text detailing moments and thoughts where the sensory experience detailed in the stickers caused problems for me.
The next book details the experience of being overwhelmed by seemingly simple tasks. With ADHD, the brain can almost automatically break down one task into many, but instead of those tasks each being manageable, they all seem as big as the original task. I explained this in the context of doing the dishes with cutouts in the pages.
The third book shows my experience with hyperfocus. ADHD is not actually a lack of focus like most people think. It is more of a difficulty regulating focus. I often find that I am able to focus really well on certain things, for hours on end even, but the things I hyperfocus on are not always the things I need to be doing. It can be humorous at times. For this book I showed the things that I was supposed to be focusing on being obscured by the things I ended up hyperfocusing on by printing the latter on transparency film and placing those pages over the pages with the text of the things I was supposed to be doing.
The final book in the series is a representation of the symptom that most people associate with ADHD, inattention. People with ADHD are prone to making careless errors because we have trouble regulating our focus. For this book, I scanned careless errors I had made throughout the semester, things like missing letters, wrong numbers, and guidelines being left on pages. I then created stickers to point out the issues in the scans. This was actually extremely helpful for me in preparing for final reviews. I was able to go back through my work looking for mistakes, but I thought of it more as looking for content for my book. I think this helped me to notice the mistakes more easily than if I had just been checking over my work normally.
15. Caldwell, Low, Petersen, Porter, Rayburn, Silver