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What We're Reading This Month for ADHD Awareness, Part 2

Cover for How To Keep House While Drowning

October is ADHD-Awareness Month! In the spirit of increasing awareness of the exceptional strengths that people with ADHD have and the challenges they often face in a world designed for neurotypical people, we are reading and reviewing two books that attempt to capture and enhance part of the ADHD experience. As neuropsychologists who offer ADHD testing in Cincinnati, understanding and appreciating the complexity of ADHD is paramount.

How to Keep House While Drowning (HtKHWD) is, on the surface, about house-keeping and care tasks (“the chores of life”) that neurodivergent people often struggle with. At a deeper level, the book is a testament to the creativity, resourcefulness, humor, and compassion that is often characteristic of people with ADHD.

Another reason we appreciate this book is because of the explicit effort to make it accessible to neurodivergent readers. It is not excessively long and is easily digestible, with important points clearly offered in bold type. Metaphors are offered in conjunction with their literal interpretations and an abridged (“short-cut”) version is offered.

Like the book we reviewed last week (Laziness Does Not Exist by Devon Price, Ph.D.), HtKHWD is likely to be helpful for people with ADHD. It is also written for overworked and overwhelmed parents, people with depression, people with chronic illness (e.g., long-Covid, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis), perfectionists, and anyone struggling with a physical or mental burden. It also takes a critical look at society’s tendency to conflate morality with something unrelated. In Laziness Does Not Exist, we examined the fallacy that productivity is morally superior to rest and self-care. In HtKHWD, Davis challenges the pervasive belief that a perfectly organized, spotless, Instagram-worthy home or self is morally superior to the alternative (the messy but functional). This book also challenges the idea that self-worth should be tied to some external factor, and Davis encourages readers to break the cycle of unfair self-critique and judgment.

We also appreciated Davis’s breakdown of chores and care-tasks as demands on executive functions. Organization, prioritization, sequencing, time management, attention to detail, working memory, and prospective memory (remembering to do something in the future) are often critical to the smooth operation of a household. She shares specific strategies and tips that are tailored and accessible to those burdened with executive dysfunction (e.g., some neurodivergent folx, like Autistic people and people with ADHD; some people with depression or other psychological conditions; and some people who have had a traumatic brain injury (TBI)). And she does so while maintaining a compassionate and gentle tone and explicitly recognizes the individual nature of strengths and struggles within each of us.

In addition to specific strategies, the book is full of important general take-aways, like Davis’s philosophy: “you don’t exist to serve your space; your space exists to serve you.” This permission to let go of arbitrary standards and to focus on function and what works for you is paradoxically obvious yet mind-blowing. And it lends itself to the development of resourcefulness and creative problem solving (readers will enjoy a poem about baskets and the life-changing realization that you don’t have to fold every item of laundry!).

Along with compassion and gentleness, Davis demonstrated a mastery of candid honesty (and therefore, relatable) style of writing. She shares her own experiences, both positive and negative, in an authentic and vulnerable way. Anyone who has struggled to care for themselves or their space and those who have been unfairly and harshly judged (often by themselves) by perfectionistic standards will feel seen and supported.

Overall, in a society inundated with and overwhelmed by prescriptive, judgmental, and narrow self-help messaging (not to mention the overly polished, curated, and unrealistic images of perfect homes and people on social media), HtKHWD was a breath of fresh air and we expect that many people with ADHD and many neurotypical people will enjoy and benefit from it. The grace and compassion that radiates from the page is powerful and the strategies and opportunities for skill-building can likely be transformative.

To learn more about KC Davis and her work, visit


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