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Combating Skill Regression ADHD: Strategies for Success

May 10, 2023

Skill regression is when you start losing some of the abilities you've developed in a specific area. For instance, let's say you were really good at playing guitar and you had to put the guitar aside for a while to focus on something else. When you come back to it, you might not play as well as you used to because some of your guitar-playing skills have regressed back to an earlier level. It can happen with all kinds of things - athletic, creative, academic, or professional. It's not something unusual, but it can be quite frustrating when you don't feel like you're meeting your full potential.

People with ADHD may notice skill regression more than the general population especially if they are late diagnosed and have previously been "masking". The way that you practised the skill prior to being diagnosed might not feel right anymore and you might find it challenging to perform at the same level as before. This isn't to say that you won't be able to return to the same level you were at before - you just need to learn to do it a different way.

In this blog post, we will delve into what causes skill regression in children and adults.

In addition to discussing strategies for children with ADHD, our focus will shift towards transitioning from school-to-work for individuals experiencing skill regression due to their ADHD. Specialized coaching programs designed specifically for adults navigating employment challenges will be explored alongside methods to develop necessary skill sets that maintain long-term career stability.

Last but not least, we'll shed light on the age regression phenomenon associated with skill regression in those living with ADHD.

Jeremy Photo

Hey, Jeremy the founder of Focus Bear here. I was diagnosed with ASD (L1) + ADHD as a 34 year old. One thing I experienced post diagnosis was skill regression potentially around social interaction as I started to unmask. It’s been painful at times but I’ve been finding a new way forward. I hope you will too. Feel free to join our Discord server if you want to chat about skill regression with me and other AuDHDers. Also consider trying out Focus Bear as it can help with some of the challenges that AuDHD brings.

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Table of Contents

Relative vs Absolute Skill Regression

In some cases, it may seem like an individual with ADHD is experiencing skill regression when it's actually only a regression when compared with other people in the same cohort. Skill acquisition is closely tied to executive functioning and since people with ADHD tend to struggle with executive function deficits, skill development can be impaired.

In comparison to their peers who do not have ADHD, individuals with ADHD may experience slower development in cognitive abilities, especially in areas such as attention span, working memory, and impulse control. As a result, these individuals may fall behind compared to their counterparts who do not experience similar executive function deficits. However, it's important to note that this does not necessarily reflect a loss of skills and abilities - rather, the individual with ADHD may just need additional support and resources to keep pace with their peers. With appropriate interventions, including behavioral and cognitive therapies and medication when necessary, individuals with ADHD can overcome these struggles and reach their full potential.

Take the Skills Regression Test here

Importance of Addressing Executive Function Issues as Early as Possible

To ensure the most successful outcomes, early intervention to manage ADHD's effects on executive functioning skills such as organization, planning, impulse control and emotional regulation is imperative. Research has shown that targeted interventions such as behavioral therapy or medication management may help improve executive functioning abilities in children with ADHD (source). Some strategies parents can use include:

  • Create routines: Establishing daily routines for morning preparations before school or work helps create structure for individuals with ADHD.
  • Break tasks into smaller steps: Breaking down complex tasks into manageable steps makes them less overwhelming for those struggling with organizational skills.
  • Promote self-monitoring: Encourage your child to keep track of their progress and identify areas where they may need additional support.
  • Use visual aids: Visual reminders like charts, calendars, or checklists can help individuals with ADHD stay organized and focused on tasks at hand.

Incorporating these strategies into daily life can significantly improve the ADHD experience for both children and adults alike. By addressing executive function issues early on, individuals with ADHD are better equipped to succeed in various aspects of their lives.

Given the importance of addressing executive function issues early on, it is essential to understand how stability of attention deficits can affect critical developmental periods. Furthermore, Organizational Skills Training (OST) for children with ADHD offers a unique approach to intervention.

Key Takeaway: With ADHD, executive function deficits can have a major impact on cognitive development during childhood. It is therefore important to address these issues early by implementing strategies such as establishing routines, breaking down tasks into smaller steps, self-monitoring and using visual aids; this will help individuals with ADHD stay focused and organized in their everyday life.

Environment specific skill regression

For individuals with ADHD, skill regression is often context-dependent. This means that the ability to execute an acquired skill may vary depending on the situation.

For example, a person with ADHD might find that they can easily complete a task when they are in a quiet environment and in a relaxed state of mind, but as soon as there is a change in scenery, such as moving to a noisy environment or being in a high-stress situation, they may find it incredibly challenging to complete the same task.

Many factors can contribute to skill regression for individuals with ADHD, including extra emotional stress, increased responsibilities, health issues, or sleep disturbances. An individual's overall mental and physical wellbeing can impact their ability to perform as well as their ability to adapt to different scenarios. This can lead to frustration as they may perceive their loss of previously gained abilities as a personal failure, leading to a negative impact on self-esteem or emotions.

Therefore, it is essential to identify the context-dependent factors that may be contributing to skill regression and work on strategies to mitigate them. These strategies can include effective stress management techniques, regular exercise and healthy eating habits and consistently practicing and revising previously gained skills. With appropriate interventions, individuals with ADHD can effectively manage these challenges and overcome obstacles to promote success both in personal and professional settings.

Transitioning from School-to-work for Individuals with ADHD

One specific example of environment specific skill regression is the transition from school to work. This is a critical period in a young adult's life, where they need to start building a foundation for their future career. However, for individuals diagnosed with ADHD, it can be an especially challenging time. This is due to several factors, including difficulties with self-reliance, self-discipline, and time management skills that are critical to success in the workplace.

In school, children often receive lots of support from teachers, parents, and other sources. However, once they transition to the workplace, the level of support tends to decrease. The young adult is expected to be self-reliant and self-organized, which can be especially challenging for those diagnosed with ADHD. This lack of support can be difficult to navigate, especially for those who struggle with executive function difficulties, and can lead to feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.

In a workplace environment, the need for organization and efficiency is crucial for an individual's overall performance levels among peers and colleagues alike. Struggling with time management or self-discipline can negatively impact one's productivity and hinder their ability to effectively manage their work. These difficulties can also limit opportunities for career development and advancements. Therefore, it's crucial to identify these challenges early on and develop strategies to help promote independence and self-management in professional settings. With appropriate interventions, such as therapy or coaching, individuals with ADHD can overcome these challenges and become successful in the workforce.

To address these challenges, there are specialized coaching programs designed specifically for adults navigating employment challenges.

Specialized Coaching Programs Designed Specifically for Adults Navigating Employment Challenges

Edge Foundation is an example of a coaching program that offers personalized support tailored to the unique needs of individuals with ADHD. These coaches help clients develop necessary skill sets such as:

  • Time management strategies
  • Prioritization techniques
  • Maintaining focus and motivation during tasks
  • Social skills development in professional environments
  • Coping mechanisms when faced with setbacks or distractions at work

The Skill Development Treadmill

Skill regression can also be caused by the rapid evolution of knowledge in many fields. In the past, it was possible for an individual to leave university with a skill set that could last for a lifetime. However, as the internet and other technologies continue to transform our world, knowledge is evolving at an unprecedented pace, and people need to keep their skills up to date to remain relevant.

Fields that involve knowledge work, such as data science, technology, and healthcare, are constantly evolving, with new techniques, tools, and technologies appearing frequently. As a result, it can be challenging to keep up with the ever-changing demands of the field, leading to a sense of skill regression or a feeling of becoming outdated.

At times, it can feel overwhelming to keep up with the rapid pace of change, and the need to constantly re-skill can be intimidating. Continuous learning is essential to remain competitive in the workforce, but it can be hard to find time amid daily work routines, home commitments, and personal growth aspirations.

Therefore, developing a growth mindset where one views learning as a lifelong process and seeking out professional development opportunities in new technologies, soft skills, or leadership styles can be crucial in today's rapidly changing work environment. With continuous learning, individuals can stay relevant in their careers, adapt to changes and achieve personal and professional growth.

Setting aside time in your morning routine for professional development is one way to turn learning into a way of life. Focus Bear can help you set up a customised morning routine where you take care of your physical and mental health as well as making time for learning.

Frequently Asked Questions  

What are the common signs of skill regression in individuals with ADHD?

Skill regression in individuals with ADHD may manifest as a decline in previously acquired organizational, time management, or social skills. Common signs include increased forgetfulness, difficulty completing tasks on time, reduced ability to prioritize responsibilities, and challenges maintaining relationships.

How can I help my child with ADHD prevent skill regression?

To help your child prevent skill regression, provide consistent structure and routines at home. Encourage regular practice of essential skills through engaging activities tailored to their interests. Offer positive reinforcement for progress made and consider seeking professional support from an ADHD specialist.

What strategies can be used to address skill regression in children with ADHD?

Strategies for addressing skill regression include implementing individualized educational plans (IEPs), utilizing specialized coaching programs like Organizational Skills Training (OST), employing visual aids such as planners or calendars, practicing mindfulness techniques to improve focus and attention span (source).

Are there any long-term effects associated with skill regression for those with ADHD?

Long-term effects of unaddressed skill regression may lead to academic underachievement, difficulties transitioning into adulthood or employment settings (source). Early intervention is crucial to mitigate these potential outcomes.

How does medication impact the rate of skill regression for people living with ADHD?

Medication can effectively manage core ADHD symptoms, potentially reducing the rate of skill regression. However, it's essential to combine medication with behavioral interventions and skill-building strategies for optimal results (source).


In conclusion, managing skill regression in ADHD can be a difficult task. It is essential to recall that, with the proper therapy and self-care techniques, managing both ADHD and skill regression can be achieved. By taking steps such as creating structure and routine in daily life, seeking professional help when needed, setting realistic goals for yourself or your child with ADHD ,and engaging in activities that reduce stress levels like mindfulness meditation or yoga you will be able to cope better with the effects of this condition on day-to-day living. Skill regression adhd does not have to control one's life if proactive measures are taken early on.

Take control of your daily life with Focus Bear, the productivity and self improvement app designed specifically for people with ADHD. With its powerful features, you can easily complete your morning routine every day and stay productive at work while winding down in the evening.

May 10, 2023
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