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adhd-can i become a computer programmer?


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11 replies to this topic

#1 talper

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Posted 30 July 2010 - 06:15 PM

hello, im 22 years old.
i was recently diagnosed with adhd, after the idea of me having it sparked only 2 months ago, though i had many problems since i was little.
except the usual symptoms, very low motivated, fast changing motivation, unpersistent, since i was little i had some kind of attraction to computer programming.

unfortunately, i -never- could be able to become a real programmer.
i never was able to learn programming languages properly, couldnt concetrate, was changing subjects often etc.
at first sight of hardship, i just stopped which made me not able to understand things like recursion properly, and even get very low grade on a more advance pascal test in highschool(recursion, trees, etc).

the thing is, i always had a "spark" for computers.
i was "interested" in very advanced things, like linux, hacking(even the programming side of bufferoverflows, shellcodes etc) and even linux kernel, open source etc.
very hardcore things, yet i never learned them! i just couldnt, though i had alot of excitment buying the books for that, i just couldnt sit and learn, or even read for long.
also, i jumped from topic to topic, and didnt have proper knowladge for the more advanced things(like the knowladge of c, which i know pretty good, but not good enough yet tried to learn kernel programming).
i just bought more and more books, was "amazed" by concepts, but when it was time to read the new book i bought i just froze.
i have bought maybe 30 books, most in "impulsive rage".
i find it very difficult to follow the learning proccess, even when a book is categorised a-b-c, and i will jump back and forth.

i heared that many adhders may experience hyperfocus with programming and never knew why i couldnt do it.
thinking about being kernel hacker, or hacker or programmer excite me and thats where it stop! and then i lose motivation.
i decided to take java-introduction to programming in the open university to see how i deal with that which will start in october but even now im trying to "jump" to things like c course and operating system course, which may interest me more(i dont know, i never learned them (: ).
i never know if and why things like linux kernel hacking and other programming things attract me cause i never learned properly or programmed much, yet thinking about it excite me.

im gonna start medicating after being diagnosed finally a week ago.
is it possible it will make a massive change and make me able to become a programmer? maybe the problem is i lose focus and motivation as soon as i face a difficult thing for me to understand and thats why i always stopped?
there is this attraction, looking at books on my shelf, but in the last years after highschool i tried learning things like java, web programming/php, seo and always stopped very soon.

what can i do? i just see so many people that take it so easy, even less intelligent then me, so what? they just keep when hardship comes untill they undersand?

*btw-of course i have concetration problems and losing motivation when reading/doing alot of other stuff, which made me literlly have very little hobbies and my day consists of alot of web surfing/tv watching.
i will appreciate your any help/advice.

tal
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#2 BlaineSch

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Posted 30 July 2010 - 07:10 PM

The answer is yes, anybody can be a programmer as long as they are willing to try. Not always a good one, but they can.

I have a hyperactivity disorder, which I think makes me lose attention easily, but as long as you stay focused.

Usually you change what your doing a lot, once you get a small part working, you keep working on finishing the next part, so yes your doing the same thing "programming" but your solving multiple little problems as you keep going.

It's all about motivation. I think learning my first language was the hardest thing to do, and it took a while. After that it's a lot easier to pick up syntax and such.
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#3 zeroradius

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Posted 30 July 2010 - 08:23 PM

hey talper,

I'm 22 as well and have had ADHD all my life so my answer to you is you can absolutely become a programmer. The thing is programming needs to be something that really excites you. The more something truly excites you the easier it will be for you to pay attention and learn. Sounds obvious I know but for people with ADHD it is especially true, if it doesn't excite us are attention drifts away usually within seconds. I know when I program i can usually pay attention for hours at a time (a good thing sense I am primary attention defecate). Things will of course be a little harder for you then it would for some one who does not have ADHD but with enough determination you can do anything that a "regular" person can.
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#4 talper

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Posted 30 July 2010 - 08:44 PM

the reason i asked is because as i wrote, i tried many many times in the past, and unlike many people i know, i lost the motivation when hardship came.......i tried and tried(it doesnt mean i "gave it my all") but i kept coming to it again and again.
the thing is that i know many adhd programmers may have hyperfocus that helps them study.
thats why i wrote that i dont really know how much i like programming other then the flare of excitment because the second i try to read about a subject im related to(or buy a book) i stop.....and those withadhd will know its more then "try harder, persist".
i hope i will react good to medications and they will help.

*i may add that computer books is the only books i have and i dont have this flare to physics or economy for example, yet i have problem reading any book and persisting in anything
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#5 zeroradius

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Posted 30 July 2010 - 09:29 PM

.and those withadhd will know its more then "try harder, persist".


Thats not completely true. Don't take this the wrong way but you are hiding be hind your "disorder". I have had ADHD as far back as i can remember, and yah things can be hard at times but you can get throu it if you try hard enough. You may not be the best you might have to try 20X harder then other people to achieve average results , you may have to develop tricks to help you learn and pay attention but you can do anything if you have the determination. Your problem is laziness. Do you know how many teachers who said I couldn't go to university? how many people called me dumb? Yet I have a bachelors degree and am thinking of going for my masters. So please spare me the line about ADHD people not being able to do things just because they are ADHD because honestly it makes me madder then anything else that has ever been said to me on this forum.
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#6 TeenChristian

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Posted 31 July 2010 - 04:49 AM

Talper, You kind of sound like me, not totally, but in a sense. I can loose interest and motivation fast. Like when I used to try coding a project (with a software that made it twice as easy anyway) I would get to a part where It was kind of hard, then I would move onto another project. I probably wasted alot of time by jumping from project to project. The only thing I got from that experience was probably the fact that it had to do with C++ (the language I'm learning now). My advice to you would be this:

Find a (one, just one for now) programming language you wish to learn. C++, python, html5, php, any one language. Now you have your language, this is the hard part. (you probably already have at least 2 books for every programming language around :P) so pick up a book, not a book thats to advanced. A real beginner book! And open it up... now right about now you sigh, motivation leaves and you want to watch tv right? This is where you Think of all the amazing programs made with that language, and what you'll be able to do with it when you learn it!
Now read, take notes, practice! One you make your first program (even if it's a "hello world" that will send your motivation up! Take it one small step at a time. Don't switch languages when you get stuck, instead ask everyone on the forums. All the wonderful people here would be glad to help you ^^

Don't give up! Keep trying! And welcome to CodeCall, its a pleasure to have you here ;)
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#7 WingedPanther73

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Posted 31 July 2010 - 06:34 AM

I've read many stories about people with ADD/ADHD being excellent network administrators, because they naturally jump attention between different aspects of the network.

I think the trick to being an ADD/ADHD programmer would be to make sure you have multiple small problems that you can bounce between, slowly assembling them as components of new small problems. I know that when I code, I tend to "grow" my code, doing a small bit of code, then test, more code, test, more code, test. I also tend to have up to ten windows open, often including an editor with a dozen documents open that I'm switching between.

Work the way you are inclined to work in the field you want to work in, rather than trying to work the way you see non-ADHD people around you working. Also, don't mistake discouragement and difficulty for ADHD symptoms. I've taught math to people with ADHD, and watched them learn web-development and programming. It's about finding your own rhythm.
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#8 Manuel

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Posted 20 July 2015 - 09:55 AM

Hello to every one I'm new here ,for me I have ADHD and had been diagnosed 5 years ago I am also having problems learning to code cause it get a little frustrating when I can't get it right so I was searching for answers and happen to found this post and its kinda cool and to know I'm not alone . as for me I am 34 and been trying to learn coding off and on for a wile and some times find it complicating at times but for some reason I still find my self when board at work on my work computer writing python and what I remember . my advice keep your head up and try your best and to know your not alone
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#9 DarkLordCthulhu

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Posted 21 July 2015 - 03:38 PM

I have ADHD and I have learned to program, so I know it can be done.  When I find myself experiencing ADHD-style "scatterbrainedness" I like to drink something caffeinated.  I find that helps treat my symptoms.


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#10 Manuel

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Posted 21 July 2015 - 03:57 PM

How long did it take you to learn and what language did you lean
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#11 WingedPanther73

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Posted 22 July 2015 - 04:53 AM

Caffeine is a well-known (but far cheaper than medication) treatment for ADHD. It helps ADHD people the same way as non-ADHD people: increased focus :)

I've taught students with ADHD and watched them learn programming languages in intense study in about a month. They still only know the basics, of course, but it's a solid foundation to work from.

 

One thing I tend to advise people with ADHD: try to set up your environment so you can work WITH the ADHD instead of against it. If your focus is going to be jumpy, try to have multiple projects open in different tools so you're jumping from project to project and ultimately always "on task". Another thing you can do is try to develop a rhythm of "code a little, test a little" so that you're not doing the same thing all the time. Once you have a workflow that complements your ADHD, you'll be better off.

I've also read several articles where network admins talk about ADHD making them MORE effective in their jobs than people without. Since many of them also do scripting to accomplish their tasks, that may be an area of interest, too.

Side note: DarkLordofthePenguins, can I call you Penguinthulhu?


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#12 DarkLordCthulhu

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Posted 22 July 2015 - 06:49 AM

How long did it take you to learn and what language did you lean

 

It has taken about six years so far, and I've become fairly good at C programming, shell scripting, and client-side web development.  Though I wasn't focusing on programming this entire time; I tend to move rather rapidly from one interest to the next.  But I always return to the interests that I'm truly passionate about, like programming.


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