Object Permanence; Out of Sight, Out of Mind


Object permanence is the ability to understand that an object continues to exist, even though it can no longer be seen, heard or touched.

One of the most frustrating "symptoms" of ADHD is the lack of object permanence.  The reason for the quotation marks is that it is not an officially recognized medical symptom.  Forgetfulness and inattention, however, are  recognized symptoms, and poor object permanence is one theory in why we struggle with the latter two.

Forgetfulness is a symptom of ADHD that is related to inattention. People with inattentive type or combined type (inattentive and hyperactive) ADHD typically:

  • lose objects they need for school, work, or daily life
  • are easily distracted by present thoughts, people, items or tasks
  • forget daily tasks, such as paying bills, doing chores, or remembering to keep appointments
  • forget to take medication
  • forget to stay in touch, return emails and texts, or respond to invitations

Some claim that this indicates difficulty in remembering that objects, tasks, or items exist, when the person with ADHD cannot see, hear, or touch them.

Personally, I DO realize things exist even though they are not right in front of my face, but have no idea where those things might be.  One reason for this is that often times my brain and body seem to lose their connection when I am completing tasks.  For example, I pick up a very important piece of mail (that I need to reference later) from my kitchen counter, walk upstairs and put it in my nightstand drawer.  While I am walking from the kitchen downstairs to the nightstand upstairs, my mind is already thinking about the next thing(s) I need to focus on.  My brain has already disconnected from the physical task of putting the mail in the nightstand and moved onto the next task, but my body hasn't completed the task yet.  A month later when I need to reference that important piece of mail I literally have NO MEMORY of where it could be.  I do not remember putting it in the nightstand because when I placed it there, my body and my brain were on two different pages. Even worse--sometimes I will not even remember that VERY IMPORTANT piece of mail ever existed!  Out of sight, out of mind. 

This is my least favorite symptom of my combined-type ADHD.  

Do you or your kids forget to complete tasks, constantly misplace items, place things in random, different locations instead of having a place for everything and everything in its place?  Well if you do, you are not alone.  I wish I could give you some advice on how to improve it, but I am still trying to figure that out.  I will come up with a place to "file" information or objects and the next day not have a clue what I came up with.  Brain and body disconnected.  Neurological disorder.  ADHD.  

Thank God I married a neurotypical person so at least one person in the family has his sh**t together!  ;) 



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1 comment

This is me. List of things I forget if I don’t see it:

Taking meds
Anything time related
Due dates
Any task or verbal direction/thought not written down

Nicole Dennis

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