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The Holiday Husband

Sitting through an entire dinner at home with my husband Alaric is impossible. By the time I’m halfway through my mashed potatoes, he’s up rearranging the spice rack or leafing through the bills we need to send out.

Because Alaric, a stage manager, was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) when he was 13 years old, I’ve accepted the inevitability of my husband’s jaunt from the kitchen and no longer take offense.I also wasn’t surprised when Alaric’s father Fred, a mechanical engineer, immediately started to clean up the Thanksgiving dinner we hadn’t yet finished because he too has ADHD. Holiday gatherings with family can be tough on these fidgety guys — “Having ADHD is like wearing a hearing aid on all five senses,” Fred says.

“You hear the people talking, the clinking of the glasses and the plates. I have an awful time at any large dinner trying to concentrate on just one conversation.”Alaric, taking the ADHD cue from his father, leaps from conversation to conversation at family gatherings.

“It’s like I glaze over the person I’ve been talking to, eavesdropping on what I think is a more interesting conversation while I zone in on it,” he says.[Free Handout: Become a Small-Talk Superstar]As if the food, family, and festivities aren’t enough for a sensory overload, adding the tedious tasks of holiday planning — such as shopping — can send my husband into a tailspin.“The stores play familiar music and I’ll forget what I’m doing and just listen to it,” Alaric says. “It’s weird that I have to take medication before I go shopping, but it helps me stay focused on what I came for, and to compare prices so that I don’t wander back and forth,” says Alaric.

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