Object Permanence and ADHD: Six Coping Strategies

The concept of object permanence holds that things exist even when they are hidden from view. This idea is frequently difficult for people with ADHD, which makes it easy for them to forget about duties, occasions, or things that are generally outside of their current frame of reference. Deficits in object permanence might eventually cause issues in relationships, the workplace, and personal life.

Object Permanence: What Is It?

Realizing that something or someone persists outside of our direct line of sight or proximity is known as object persistence. For instance, you realize that even if you lost your keys, they are still there. Object permanence also includes obligations and relationships, like distant family members or office tasks.

Why Is Object Permanence Affected by ADHD?

Increased impulsivity, hyperactivity, or inattention that interferes with day-to-day functioning is the hallmark of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Even while problems with object persistence are not a primary sign of ADHD, many people who have the disorder do.

The expression “out of sight, out of mind” comes to mind. This idea frequently comes true for people who have ADHD. Because they do not often come into contact with a certain product, person, or event, they could find it difficult to see and recall it. When people are unable to experience something physically (taste, touch, sight, etc.), it is genuinely “out of mind.”

Poor object permanence in people with ADHD can manifest as


  • Task failure: A young person may put off finishing an assignment because they are preoccupied with other things. They might focus all of their concentration on a different task and ignore the first one.

  • Distressing when they cannot find something: A youngster may experience distress when they misplace or lose something because they think the thing (or person) will always be gone.

  • When a parent leaves the room, you feel overwhelmed: A young child may assume that a parent or other loved one does not exist if they are not in front of them, leading them to believe that they are not coming back.


  • Developing insecure attachments: Inadequate object permanence during infancy may be a factor in the development of insecure adult attachment patterns.

  • Less time spent with friends and family: People who suffer from object permanence impairments may find it difficult to maintain relationships with friends and family. As a result, they may spend less time with them.

  • Purchasing more goods for their home: An adult with ADHD may fail to notice things they have already purchased and put away in cabinets, drawers, or closets, which results in pointless purchases.

  • Missing payments and failing to pay bills: It is common for people to forget about bills. But if they do not set up automated withdrawals or reminders, people with ADHD could regularly forget to make payments.

ADHD’s effects on the permanence of objects

Issues with object permanence in ADHD affect both the individual with ADHD and everyone around them. Regrettably, inadequate object permanence can cause discord and strain in interpersonal connections. Family members can grow irritated if obligations are neglected, calls are not returned, or you are absent a lot. Those with ADHD may neglect important obligations outside of relationships, which can have unfavorable outcomes.

Issues with object persistence in ADHD may have the following effects:


When a person contacts a friend, they typically anticipate a reply. For those who struggle with object permanence, even replying to a text or phone call can be difficult. When a someone with ADHD opens a message and begins to type, they might get sidetracked by something else. They placed their phone down to concentrate on anything else, but once they did, they forgot they were supposed to reply. Although this amnesia is never malicious, it can make others feel ignored or mistreated.

In romantic relationships, an extra layer of frustration could be apparent due to ADHD. In a partnership, each member has particular needs. Someone with ADHD could find it difficult to remember these demands because they are not concrete or obvious. If they do not have a tangible reminder established, they can overlook their partner’s request for a date night every Thursday. Due to feelings of neglect or undervaluation, these difficulties may lead to arguments between spouses.


Even small daily tasks can seem daunting. Many people breeze through these assignments without giving them a second thought. Living with ADHD makes things more difficult for those who have trouble with object persistence. Their brain may take precedence over their initial intentions, causing them to hop from activity to task.

Think about your laundry, for example. You might throw your filthy clothing in the washer so you can concentrate on anything else, only to remember to do it the next day. For those with ADHD, such behaviors may be typical aspects of daily life.

Furthermore, it can be tough to deal with item permanence issues at work and in the classroom. For instance, after arriving home from school, an individual with ADHD could forget the directions for a project or homework assignment. Object persistence problems can also lead to forgetting to take medication or schedule doctor’s appointments outside of the workplace or educational setting.

6 Strategies for Handling Object Permanence Issues

Although object persistence difficulties might lead to issues, an individual with ADHD can work to correct these impairments. When dealing with low object persistence, routines, organizational aids, and visual reminders are crucial.

Here are six strategies for handling difficulties with object permanence:

  1. Establish Reminders

You may better manage your finances, medications, and crucial dates by setting reminders. To understand exactly what has to be done and when to attend your next appointment, for instance, make visual notes on your phone, computer, or calendar. To make sure you do not ignore your relationships, you may also create reminders to text, email, or phone people.

  1. Exercise Frequently

Among the many advantages of exercise are enhanced memory and cognitive function.4 You might experience an improvement in your memory over time, which could help with object permanence deficiencies. Frequent exercising also presents chances to establish a dependable regimen!

  1. Keep text messages closed

Wait to answer to texts until you are ready to reply. A loved one may feel underappreciated if you leave them on “read,” which does not promote reciprocal appreciation.

  1. Maintain a Cleaning Schedule

Make a to-do list of chores for each room in your house. By doing this, you may maintain your household tasks on schedule, particularly if you are feeling overburdened with other commitments. Furthermore, sorting could reveal purchases you had completely forgotten about! For people who tend to overbuy home things, this can be very beneficial.

  1. Tell Your Loved Ones the Truth

To make sure your relationships with friends and family stay strong and whole, be sincere with them. Talk about your issues with object permanence so they can comprehend you better. Demonstrating your concern for their emotions also lets them know you value their assistance.

  1. Assist Others by Forming a Support Group

Getting to know people who face comparable difficulties might provide you with resources and advice for enhancing object persistence. Joining a support group offers a space to feel acknowledged and find strategies to make meaningful changes, as well as fresh insight and perspective.

Last Words

While object permanence problems in ADHD might be difficult to manage, coping mechanisms can help. It will be of utmost importance to locate therapy and assistance that suits you! Support does not have to be “out of sight, out of mind,” even if many things in life might be. To begin pursuing a healthier tomorrow, connect with loved ones, join a group, and implement healthy lifestyle changes.

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