ADHD & Rearranging Furniture
- Interior Design
- adhd, health, mental health, mindfulness, moving furniture, rearranging furniture
- February 3, 2022
If you have ADHD, you’re a parent of someone with ADHD, or you know someone with ADHD, you will probably have noticed behaviour that seems to connect to the condition. Moving furniture around is one of those behavioural quirks that many people with ADHD find familiar and a pretty harmless quirk at that. Let’s take a look at why rearranging your bedroom or your home might be something you enjoy doing if you have ADHD.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is the abbreviation for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is often diagnosed in childhood but can often be missed (especially for girls) and can also be diagnosed in adulthood.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can take three different forms, each of which has its own classic ADHD symptoms. The symptoms can look different in children than in an adult.
This is the type of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that people imagine when they hear the name. The symptoms in children include:
- Constant fidgeting
- Being unable to sit still, especially in a quiet environment
- Excessive talking and physical movement
- Not being able to focus on tasks
- Acting impulsively
- Interrupting other people’s conversations
- Being unable to wait their turn
This cluster of symptoms used to be called ADD but it is now included in the ADHD umbrella. One of the reasons why girls tend to not be diagnosed as often as children is that they are more likely to have predominately inattentive attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and this is less likely to be picked up on in school.
The symptoms in children include:
- Being easily distracted
- Making careless mistakes in their work
- Being forgetful and easily losing things
- Seeming to struggle with listening and following instructions
- Being unable to stick to the same task (especially if it is tedious)
- Constantly changing tasks
- Having difficulty with organising themselves
Some children don’t fall neatly into predominately hyperactive-impulsive or predominately inattentive and they may have symptoms that fit into both. In this case, they would be diagnosed as having a combined presentation of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
For adults who didn’t have an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder diagnosis in childhood, the presentation may look quite different. This is partly because behaviours are naturally going to be different for a child compared to an adult and partly because many undiagnosed children with ADHD symptoms learn to “mask” them. In other words, they find methods to reduce their symptoms on their own so that they fit into society a little more easily.
Symptoms of ADHD in adults include:
- Poor organisational skills, including continually starting new tasks before finishing the old task
- Being careless
- Not being able to focus or prioritise tasks
- Often losing things and being forgetful
- Being restless
- Having trouble staying quiet, including speaking out of turn and interrupting others
- Having mood swings, a short fuse, and being irritable
- Being very impatient
- Taking risks with little concern for their own safety or the safety of others
The ADHD experience
The ADHD experience can differ greatly from one person to the next and not everyone with ADHD will present in the same way. One person can have a cluster of symptoms that have little to no overlap with the symptoms of someone else with ADHD, especially for adults who have learnt their own techniques for masking.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can have a powerful impact on someone’s life. In childhood, it can interfere with the child being able to succeed at school, which can have a lasting effect on adulthood. It can also cause difficulties with making friends and being able to function socially which can be very upsetting and also cause problems that last throughout life.
People with ADHD may experience other conditions alongside it, although they don’t always. In children, this could be an anxiety disorder, depression, dyspraxia, autism spectrum disorder, Tourettes, and more. In adults, depression is common, as is bipolar disorder, personality disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Let’s focus on bipolar disorder for a second because that can often be confused for ADHD.
Bipolar disorder vs ADHD
Someone with bipolar disorder used to be labelled “manic depressive”. It is a type of depression where the person will cycle through periods of depressive lows and periods of manic highs. The manic periods of bipolar disorder can happen anywhere between a few times a year to once every few weeks.
When someone is experiencing mania, their symptoms can look very similar to ADHD. For example, they might be restless and have excess energy. They might also be inattentive, easily distracted, and have problems focusing on tasks. They are also likely to talk excessively and interrupt other people and have behavioural and emotional instability.
The overlap in symptoms between ADHD and bipolar disorder can cause the two conditions to be confused with each other but there are some key differences.
Remember that ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder. This means that it is a lifelong disorder that results from a difference in the person’s brain. As a result, ADHD symptoms are chronic. Treatments like medication and therapy can help people with ADHD to manage their symptoms but they are always present. This can also be seen in the fact that, although not everyone with ADHD receives their diagnosis when they are a child, the symptoms will have started in childhood.
Bipolar disorder, on the other hand, is a mood disorder, not a neurodevelopmental one. People with bipolar disorder aren’t born with a different brain in the same way that a child with ADHD will have been. Instead, it is a condition that develops later. Most people’s symptoms don’t start until their late teens or early adulthood. This difference can also be seen in the way that bipolar disorder symptoms cycle. A period of mania may last a week or so, but once the person has emerged from it, the manic symptoms have gone.
What causes ADHD?
We have touched on this already but ADHD is a condition that someone is born with. There is definitely a genetic component to ADHD, so someone with close family members who have the condition will be more likely to have ADHD themselves.
There is also a difference in both brain structure and function. The brain of someone with ADHD will be physically different from someone without ADHD. For example, some areas of the brain may be smaller or larger. The way the brain functions may also be different. For example, the balance of chemicals in the brain may be different in someone with ADHD compared to people without the condition.
People who are born prematurely or with low birth weight, people born with brain damage, and people with epilepsy are also more likely to develop attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
There are common misconceptions about the causes of ADHD. That for example, if a child may eat too much sugar, this could cause the condition, or if they were to watch too much TV. This isn’t the case, however. ADHD is something that you are born with and doesn’t tend to develop at a later age as it would if it were triggered by these types of environmental causes.
How is ADHD treated?
Getting officially diagnosed with ADHD is the first step to receiving the appropriate treatment and it is a long process that can be quite anxiety-provoking for some. But it is important that the diagnosis is done properly so that you or your child can access everything that they need to help them. And to have something to explain why they might be having trouble or feeling the way that they are.
For a child, the process involves assessments from a variety of different people. This can include reports from their parents, a specialist, and their teacher. Having a range of people describe the symptoms that the child is experiencing is important because one of the key features of ADHD is that it happens everywhere. So, for example, symptoms won’t just be present when the child is in their house but they will also show up at school and in every other area of their life.
Their teacher will almost certainly have noticed if they struggle in the classroom with their work or with making friends. Most schools will also have plans in place to support children with ADHD that your teacher will be able to access once your child has their diagnosis.
In adults, the symptoms need to have begun in childhood for a diagnosis of ADHD. They also must not be easily explained by another condition, such as bipolar or anxiety disorder, and they need to interfere with your everyday life. For example, they might interfere with your ability to perform well at work, finish a university course, or with relationships.
Parents of people with ADHD and adults with ADHD may have had to search for an answer for so much time that finally hearing that they do have the condition can be freeing in and of itself. Knowing that there is a reason why they don’t feel “normal” and that it isn’t their fault can be a powerful moment.
Once someone has been diagnosed with ADHD then they will be able to access the right treatment for them. The best treatment can vary between individuals and it can take a while to find out what works for each person.
Medication is a common treatment for ADHD and there are a few different medications that can help. The most common medications for ADHD are actually stimulants. This may seem backwards because, for many people, they want to feel less stimulated. And in people without ADHD, these stimulants might well mimic some of the symptoms of ADHD. But for people with the condition, the stimulants work in the opposite way. They can help to reduce impulsivity and hyperactivity and they can help the person with ADHD to focus.
Therapy is another common treatment for ADHD. Different forms of therapy will work better for different people. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help people to manage the link between their thoughts and their behaviour, psychoeducational can help people to understand ADHD and how it affects them, family and parent education can help the entire family understand how best to support the person with ADHD. Different therapies might be helpful at different times in people’s lives so many people chop and change with which ones they engage with.
With all of that being said, people with ADHD aren’t bound by their condition. Most people with ADHD are able to live a happy and healthy life, full of fun and ambition just like anybody else. Especially once they find a treatment that suits them.
Why do people with ADHD like to rearrange their rooms?
Now we have taken some time to explain what ADHD is, you might be wondering what all of that has to do with moving furniture around frequently. Of course, not everyone with ADHD will enjoy rearranging their room. As we have seen, the experience of one person with ADHD can often be very different from the experience of the next person with ADHD.
With that being said, you might have seen a lot of new blog posts pop up discussing moving furniture around as a characteristic of ADHD. And you might feel compelled to write a post about it yourself if it is something that you experience.
We have discussed how ADHD can lead people to have difficulty with focusing. This might seem like it is at odds with being able to plan out and successfully rearrange a room but, in fact, this type of focus is quite common in people with ADHD.
If the task is something the person enjoys and they are motivated enough, people with ADHD will often hyperfocus on it. This means that their focus is completely on that task, to the expense of all others, and the focus will last until the task is fully completed, sometimes without taking a break.
The psychological benefits of rearranging a room
And moving furniture around can absolutely be something to enjoy. We know that rearranging furniture can have powerful psychological and emotional effects that can help people to boost their mood and gain a sense of control.
In our modern world, it can be difficult to point to concrete examples of having completed a task successfully. Something that is completed on a computer might have a little tick next to it but a tick is only something you can see in your head. Neither is a “like” on a post on a social media website that you have decided to sit down and write. These aren’t things that you can touch or hold in your hand.
Moving a room around, on the other hand, is a lot more than just an idea in your head. It is an achievement that is truly concrete. You have physically moved the furniture and you can walk around and see and touch everything that you have done.
This concrete satisfaction is something that can help to give people a sense of real achievement. And having a physical effect on the environment around you can also help you to feel that you are effective and competent.
Rearranging the space around you can also help to change your perspective. Sometimes when we are stuck in a rut, it can be difficult to find the right way to lead ourselves out of it. But shifting our perspective by changing the space we are in can help to change our thought process entirely.
Rearranging a room is also a great avenue for being creative. It is a chance to put our own stamp on our environment in a way that reflects our sense of style and aesthetic. A creative outlet is important for a lot of people and, again, moving a room around is concrete creativity that is impossible not to notice.
If someone might tend to struggle with feeling out of control, whether that is due to hyperactivity or circumstances in their past and current life, rearranging a room can help them to re-establish that sense of control by being the master of their own space.
You can also think of rearranging a room as a form of mindfulness. With mindfulness, the goal is to focus on the present moment and everything that is happening around you. Unlike other therapies, you don’t for example write down how you feel. The goal is to not focus on your internal thoughts and to instead focus on what your senses are experiencing. Focusing on the goal of rearranging your environment can be the answer to achieving mindfulness in some circumstances because you are forced to focus only on what is happening around you.
But this isn’t just limited to just your room! Many living rooms and dining areas have furniture (for example a display cabinet) that can also be rearranged. Promoting that sensation of mindfulness and control of your environment.
Taking on this smaller task of rearranging a display cabinet for example, can still allow you take back some piece of mind and control. Even when deciding how to fill your display cabinet, do you go with curio’s or opt for more sentimental pieces such as family photos. These actions can help even though they seem small.
What to do if your family member won’t stop rearranging their room
Up until now, you might have thought of this rearranging behaviour as something that the person needs to take a break from because it isn’t “normal”. And, sure, for a lot of people, it might seem unusual for someone to move their room around on a regular basis. But, in a lot of cases, trying to get them to stop may not be the right answer.
Rearranging a bedroom or other area is something that won’t do any harm to anyone. It usually doesn’t even cost any money. And, as we have seen, it can have positive psychological benefits, especially for someone with ADHD. If rearranging their space is something that gives them joy and a sense of control, then most of the time, it’s best to sit back and let them enjoy it. You could try to get involved and make suggestions but if they have a strong aesthetic that they are trying to seek, you might well get dismissed! Otherwise, the answer is to let them be and be happy for them that they have found a creative outlet that makes them happy.
If your family member is a child, you might like to help them out with ideas, while still letting them take the lead when it comes to design. Under a certain age, everyone has trouble planning out a task to its completion, and the last thing you want is for them to get frustrated or upset that they can’t create the vision they have in their head. Helping out by lifting their desk and moving it for them or bundling up the bits that are getting in the way can do wonders for helping them to finish what they have started. Giving them a sense of control over their bedroom can be a great way of supporting them in finding a fun way of engaging their focus and exploring their creativity.
The bottom line
ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) can affect people of any age but the symptoms tend to start in childhood. It is a neurodevelopmental condition that arises because of differences in the way the brain is structured and how it functions. Someone with ADHD might have symptoms related to hyperactivity, such as being impulsive, or they might have symptoms related to being inattentive, such as being likely to forget things. In other news, if you or someone you know with ADHD likes to rearrange their space on a regular basis and you’re wondering why the answer is that it is a healthy way of exploring their creativity and gaining a sense of control over their environment. Moving furniture around gives a physical sense of achievement and it can even help with mindfulness.