How To Find the Right Word – ADHD and Struggling to Find the Word You Want

Have you ever stopped what you were saying, because you have completely lost your train of thought? Have you ever had a conversation that stopped dead, because you couldn’t come up with that one word you wanted to say? You know the word, and because you’re intelligent like most with ADHD, that word is probably the perfect word for the conversation. And sometimes it’s the most simple of words that eludes you. But you stand there looking unintelligent and spacey as you struggle. Your brain freezes, and you have to settle on a substitute word that probably doesn’t convey your message as well as the word you wanted just to keep the conversation going. Or you might blurt out what first comes to mind, which probably changes the whole meaning of what you were trying to say. And this further undermines how smart you appear to those in the conversation. This leads to the question of how to find the right word, and what kept you from finding in the first place.


This Doesn’t Mean You Aren’t Smart

It probably means that you have ADHD. As I stated before, you are most likely above average in braininess. In fact, most ADHDers have IQs over 120. One or more symptoms of ADHD could have caused this. This could be distraction. Or it could be trouble in retrieval of the information. And that can be attributed to the symptom of disorganization. As long as we’re upping the list, we could bring in disorganization. And the last symptom I will be attributing to this problem is impatience.


Symptom Number 1

Distraction – becoming distracted by something other than what you are trying to say. “Why is that floor not mopped?” “What is it that I wanted to do tonight?” “That car is fast.” “Where did I park my car?” “What is she looking at?” When one or more extraneous of these thoughts creep in, people with ADHD are more likely to lose train of thought. And getting back to that train of thought or retrieval of the right word becomes almost impossible, even with prompting.


Symptom Number 2

Retrieval trouble – not being able to retrieve words or thoughts due to the different wiring of ADHD brains. This creates a disorganization of how the brain stores and retrieves information. The other day I used the word lose instead of leave. This happens to me all the time.


Symptom Number 3

Disorganization – the disorganization of thoughts can lead to not only inability to retrieve a word, but to a totally messy conversation. I’ve gone into a conversation totally sure of what I’m want to say, only to realize my thoughts were not organized enough to get out what I wanted to say. And I know that I could have the right things to say, if I could only organize it into the right words. And what’s worse is that while you are disorganized, you have more time to have trouble retrieving the words or to get distracted.


Symptom Number 4

Impatience – rushing through what you are saying. This In fact, leaves you open to becoming distracted and unable to retrieve what it is you are trying to say. And when you are impatient, you can forget about trying to organize your thoughts into a cogent side of the conversation.


How Do You Get By This

This is the part of my blog post where I give my limited “expertise,” and where I ask for your thoughts in the comments below. I would have to say first and foremost, give yourself a break. Even those without ADHD aren’t perfect. And they might not be aware of the advantages of an ADHDer like being:

  • humorous
  • a problem solver
  • creative
  • intelligent
  • a multi tasker
  • perseverant (hyper focused)
  • passionate

And if you remember this, you might not put the pressure on yourself that will make things worse.

Second, and probably just as important, breath! Slow down and take deep even breaths. An ADHD advantage is that your mind is always working. It is possible that while you are taking those breaths, your mind could be formulating what you want to say. And it may just come pouring out of you better than how you want to say it in the first place.

Third is to tell the person you are talking to that you have the learning disorder of ADHD. Most of the time this is enough for them to give you the understanding you need. But since ADHD is still stigmatized, that might not be the case.

Fourth is to prepare what you want to say beforehand, if you can. You can do this by writing it down and practicing it. Hopefully you have someone you can practice with. I know that this is not easy to do when most conversations are spontaneous. A prime example of an instance for preparation is in an interview.

Fifth is to get passionate about what you are saying. When I am passionate about what I am saying, my adrenaline gets flowing, and I am more fluent with my words. I just have to be careful that I don’t get too excited, because I may start to hyper focus and lose track of all other things around me. Then I’m apt to say something that I shouldn’t, especially since ADHD reduces your filter.



You can see how much one symptom can because problems, but you can have multiple symptoms playing off each other. Distraction can lead to retrieval problems that can lead to impatience and disorganization. Or disorganization can lead to impatience that can lead to retrieval trouble, and on and on. In fact, it almost seems that there would always be more than one symptom in play. When you at ADHD in that way, it seems to become an untamable monster.

But, as I’ve stated above, there are many ways to do wrangle this condition into a tenable beast. There are many more ways that either I don’t know, forgot to add, or I am waiting to talk about in other blogs like medication. And as I stated above, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Just remember to leave any nastiness out of it.

8 thoughts on “How To Find the Right Word – ADHD and Struggling to Find the Word You Want”

  1. Hi! Yeah, this has been happening to me but I have noticed that it has begun to happen more often now. I think before, the occasions were far between but now, at least once a week. I’m glad to have been with my son and he has a sharp mind and he has helped me “on the fly” during important conversations. But it’s good for me to check these symptoms.

  2. I’ve never been diagnosed but I’ve always been 100% convinced I had it – for one, I can definitely be notorious for stopping during a conversation and think to myself, or say aloud, “What’s the word I’m looking for?” But it’s the advantages that have me convinced of something I’ve known for a while – creativity describes me, as does multitasking (I’m a huge multitasker), perseverant, and definitely passionate – perhaps too passionate.

    Of course, this isn’t set in stone since I’ve never been tested for it, but it definitely has me convinced. It’d be interesting had I gotten tested at a young age. 

    • I know the feeling. I wasn’t diagnosed till I was 26. I wonder that had I been diagnosed young, where I’d be today. I have learned to deal some of it, but things like procrastination and sticking with something are still big problems for me. And these things are detrimental to building an online business. This is why I started this site- to help me and others with this. I am still looking for success. Are you one of those people that has adjusted to it, so that it doesn’t hold you back. If you are looking for a diagnosis, find the right dr (preferably a psychiatrist who specializes in ADHD) to do so and help you.

  3. How old were you when you were diagnosed with ADHD?  I had a son with ADHD and the signs were very hyper, anxious, withdrawn, unable to comprehend.  He was my first child so I thought he was a typical hyper child.  I didn’t realize he may have ADHD.  It was a disorder that was just being recognized as a condition.  He had problems learning and problems socially.  I know by the time he was six there was something going on because he was so unsettled.  His mind would race, he couldn’t sit still one minute,  he couldn’t process thought and he even became depressed.  I took to a doctor who sent him to a specialist where they put him on medication that was new,.  It made him feel like a zombie but he did settle down and was able to comprehend better but his depression was worse.  He wast happy with how he felt.  Where he used to run everywhere he went he was sleeping a lot.  I took him back and they tried other medicines till finally they found something that helped.  Its hard to watch your son struggle with ADHD.  When he got older he started learning how to control his thoughts and seem to be able to handle his condition better.  The only thing was he wouldn’t stay on his meds.  Because with ADHD he suffered with depression.  He grew to be a very good man with a family, friends, career and everything like any other person,  Except he seemed so anxious and unsettled all the time.  In a lot of ways that was a motivator for him to push harder.  I guess you could say he learned to live with it.  

    I learned a lot reading your content and other will too.   People still are not aware of ADHD and what it does to your thought process.  Just keep writing about it to make people aware and to help you to do like my son and learn to manage it.  I wish you all the best with you journey.

    Thank you for the great read.

    • Thanks Kathleen! This is my second article, and I really wasn’t sure how it would be received. Your encouragement means a lot. I definitely will keep writing. I was diagnosed at 26, because I wasn’t all that hyper as a kid and flew under the radar. Most people who don’t get diagnosed young end up in there late 30s. I wish I would have been, because maybe I would have gone farther in college. All 3 of my sons have it. Your son sounds like a combination of all 3. 

  4. It is not funny being stalked in the middle of communication trying to find the right Word to use and even makes someone looks stupid sometimes. However, with this Article it is now very clear why it happens. I agreed with that slowing down and taking deep breaths works effectively. This post will be of great relief for so many people that may be confused about the kind of occurances. Thanks for sharing.


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