The Gift of ADHD
So many Negatives, What about the Positives?
We so often hear of the problems our ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) children face or are seemingly the cause of. We, as parents, hear it from teachers, school officials, family, friends, their friends and parents of their friends. Scout leaders, coaches, and caregivers.
We see it on the faces of parents on that playdate, when they meet your child for the first time, and it's a certain look that says 'Wow, that one is a handful" and you secretly wonder if they'll allow their child to continue playing with yours.
When you go to pick up your child from school and the principal is making a bee line in your direction, you instantly know it isn't going to be an excited announcement that your child has made the Spelling Bee and you resist running in the other direction.
When you read the weekly report from your child's teacher, you hope that all "Excellent's" are circled, but you have a sinking feeling there will be at least one "Unsatisfactory" circled and it is typically under the behavior section.
We often begin to wonder if there are any positives, or will be any positives in their future. Keep that "In the long run" and the "Long Term" goals and objectives in mind. Though outgrowing ADHD is a fallacy, the disorder does become more manageable for them as they mature and learn self control or learn to compensate. In this I mean, as a forgetful child, as ADHD Adults they compensate by taking notes, making lists or reminders for themselves, or they become the Boss and hire a secretary or Personal Assistant to do this for them.
Some children have the gift of self-awareness, one of my ADHD/ODD children, has this wonderful gift and she has learned at a young age to compensate for some things. For example, she knows that she will likely lose one of her shoes, or forget where she took them off, so she removes her shoes in the car when she gets home from school, so she knows that they will be there in the morning. I praise her for her awareness and excellent planning!
Many of the traits of ADHD which are often seen as "bad" in the child, can become a positive as they mature and become adults, even Gifts. I am often baffled by traits that are seen as bad behaviors in children, that are excellent traits in adults. So let us take a look at the positives.
Specific Gifts of ADHD
Spontaneous, a go-getter, willing to jump in and get things done. Unafraid of taking risks.
Social and excited to share their ideas and experiences
Free of the 100 things that they must remember each day. Especially the more mundane.
Creative or innovative thinking
Not listening or acts if they don't hear
Able to tune out the mundane or irrelevant.
Excited to know the answer and not afraid to spit it out
Careless or repeated mistakes
Doesn't feel guilty about making mistakes
Lack of empathy
Doesn't care what others think of them or say about them
Lack of Self-awareness
Free of self-consciousness
Doing what it takes to get more, getting what they want.
Giving up is not an option, they will keep at it until they accomplish
Lack of insight
Free from counting own faults
Difficulty staying on task
Able to follow multiple conversations or activities at once
Overly talkative, distracting others
Has the gift of gab, social
Historic Figures Who Have Displayed Symptoms of ADHD
Throughout history many famous, courageous, inspirational and world changing people displayed symptoms of ADHD. Though the diagnosis criteria or even the term ADHD was not in place during many of these peoples lives and it is difficult to be sure. However, history of their lives has implicated that they may have had this disorder. As you read the list, wonder what our world would be without them.
- Thomas Edison
- Albert Einstein
- Winston Churchill
- Walt Disney
- Benjamin Franklin
- John F. Kennedy
- Robert F. Kennedy
- Theodore Roosevelt
- Woodrow Wilson
- Hans Christian Anderson
- Jules Verne
- The Wright Brothers
- Jet Blue founder David Neelemen
- Robin Williams
The behaviors of the ADHD child are and should be considered separate from the child himself/herself. Because Johnny didn't raise his hand before he blurted out the answer does not make him a "bad" person. Tina forgot to put her name on her paper, yet again, and received a zero for not following directions, does that make Tina a bad person? Let's look at some of the "good" traits:
- Highly intelligent often at Genius levels
- Excellent delegators and motivators
- Hard workers
- Problem solvers
- Excellent under pressure or in chaotic situations
Let's not forget the awesome gift of "Hyperfocus".
The term Hyperfocus is not valued as it should be and often unheard of. However, if channeled properly, the outcome can be extraordinary. What is Hyperfocus? A term I learned while taking our oldest to neurofeedback sessions. It is the ability to do exactly as it says hyperfocus on a particular task without distraction, extreme mental concentration. The technical definition is the normal state that occurs during hypnosis, especially at theta levels.
Often we hear, they don't have ADHD if they can sit and play a video game for hours on end and you can't get them away from it no matter what you try. Or they will sit for hours with a thousand Lego pieces until they have put that battleship together perfectly without a piece missing. Tear apart electronics and spend hours meticulously putting them back together. These are examples of Hyperfocus. If they can find a passion, they can Hyperfocus, and the possibilities are limitless. It could be seen as obsession, yet let's look at it as passion and encourage it, whatever it may be.
Think of Edison and his passions for invention and science. Where would we be without the phonograph, the Motion Picture Camera, the LIGHT BULB! The Wright Brothers and their passion for flight. Beethoven's obsession, rather, passion for music. Robin Williams comedic genius. Theodore Roosevelt's passion for nature, among other things. We wouldn't have National Parks and protected lands without him.
Though many of the people mentioned above were thought of (in there day) as strange, quirky, even crazy. All, were or are 'out of the box' thinkers, another gift of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
So the next time we get bogged down with the negativity, let's turn it around and think of each behavior in a positive light. Not only will this be a weight off our shoulders, but our children's as well.