‘Echo tracking’ for ADHD is a coping mechanism or system I invented that I use for myself as a mindful practice in conversation. Because my ADHD is mostly inattentive I miss a lot of information or struggle to keep track of all the details or spend too much time focusing on the wrong details. It has had impact on various relationships with people in my life, from co-workers to family, some of my struggles with my inattentiveness can leave other people feeling ignored, feeling disrespected and becoming frustrated at me, seeing me as careless and unreliable.
Which is often not the case at all, it’s not that I am not trying or don’t care and that I’m lazy and flaky. Often even with medication, and at my best moments, I am navigating my ADHD every time I communicate or receive information from people. Environment can play a key factor in the amount of distractions that might happen. Workplaces are spaces I often felt it flared up the most, as it was a space that I felt the least in my control and required a lot of my focus and attention.
So what is Echo tracking. Well it’s a form of paraphrasing and information checking to ensure we didn’t miss anything important and to ensure that the person you are communicating with have the same understanding about the information or rules etc as each other. It’s a great tool for verbal accommodations and I think a type of language that needs more normalization in it being appropriate to ask a question and to ask for help. And to feel it’s OK to have missed a small detail and need to ask again, or that you just didn’t quite grasp what someone said and they may need to repeat some information for you. It can be frustrating for those closest to us to have to do this, but it is definitely less frustrating for everyone if we all have the correct and same knowledge, or are in agreement and understood each others perspective.
It’s also a way to check someone’s intentions if you are unsure if you are reading a situation right. Being inattentive might also mean you missed a social cue because you are not being tentative enough to the situation or conversation. I find again in busy environments my mind will wander no matter how much I force myself to pay attention. These kind of questions I also think are assertive in coming to an understanding however when it comes to self advocacy it’s the most appropriate conversation to have.
I feel I have experienced discrimination when I have asked these questions so it makes me want to say them even more. It needs to be OK for us to need to double check information or to sometimes have missed information, or whatever type of accommodation and understanding you need from loves ones, friends, associates and so on. I have been made to feel stupid and incompetent and small just for asking simple questions that should be perfectly OK to ask.
Here are some good examples of Echo tracking questions that I use and for you to try out – you may even think of some of your own or find your already do have some that you have been using and didn’t realize. A common one that I find the least socially useful is saying “huh” or “what”, doesn’t really get the best reception. I also think these questions can go both ways, it would be useful to develop a communication style like this that can be both agreed on. I know that when I info dump I struggle to bullet point my information to share with others, it often helps for me to try do that straight off the mark and we work on those together giving chance to elaborate on extra details that I will remember as we go over it together. Even Neurotypical people aren’t immune to forgetting information.
“I heard you say ____ did I get that right?”
“Is there more to know?”
“Did I hear you right when you said ___?”
“Please tell me what you heard me say?”
“Thanks for repeating that”
“Can I check that you meant.. ____”
“Could you paraphrase for me”