The image that often comes to mind with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disruptive, naughty, fidgety boy. A living version of Bart Simpson. This blog seeks to separate the myth from reality and provide a first person account of the benefits of this often misunderstood condition. For my fellow ADHD’ers, I have kept it short and included headings. Our previous blog provides a useful overview of ADHD, if you need a refresher read on here.
I was diagnosed with ADHD at 12. Unable to sit in class, my boundless energy, imagination and humour were a handful for parents and teachers. Now as an adult my work blends lived experience with passion about diversity and workplace inclusion. I see many positives of ADHD as an adult. Here are a few I identify with.
Creative Thinking: It is often said that neurodivergent people think outside the box. I connect random facts, situations, history and what’s happening right in front of me. I’ve lost count of how many times colleagues or family have said ‘I would never have thought of that’. My speed of coming up with ideas can lead to frustration, for example in team brainstorming sessions. While others ask for more time to come up with a new initiative I’ve done 5 and started chewing the pen! The downside is I can’t choose what my creative thinking will focus on and I can be prone to going down rabbit holes. To counter this I have to physically stand up and walk away to refocus during physical or virtual meetings.
Relentless Energy: I am ON 5 seconds after opening my eyes. I’ve never understood neurotypical people who need a gradual introduction to the day. This took some getting used to when first married. Nineteen years and two children later I am coming to terms with different operating rhythms at home and work. For subjects and tasks I am curious or passionate about I can draw on relentless energy. This could also be called persistence, a trait that has served me well in years of business development. In my early career more than one prospective customer complained to my manager about my relentless follow up. While I have learned to temper my enthusiasm, the fact remains I will not be outworked and don’t give up easily.
Fearless Curiosity: While dogs, long zoom meetings and online forms terrify me, I am comfortable meeting new people and feel like old friends 3 minutes after being introduced. I am both curious about others and confident I will be able to extract something interesting from any conversation. I’m not afraid of asking for what I need or would like. I’ve been told this can come across as very direct, I like to think of it as efficient.
Long Term Memory: If you need to be sure about a conversation years ago, ask an ADHD’er. Quick story, I once bumped into a business contact on a domestic flight. I recalled that the last time we spoke he was going to Broome on a fishing trip. Having just returned from the same region for the same purpose I was keen to show my picture of a very small Marlin. This amazed my fellow fisherman and the college traveling with me, after it was reviled that that the initial conversation was 6 years ago. I am blessed with near-perfect long term memory. It seems to work best with useless trivia and subjects that interest me, cricket, indoor plants, maps and pop culture. However my recall of business meetings, conversations and facts has been a blessing that more than makes up for shoddy note taking.
While being constantly distracted and managing impulsivity is challenging and sometimes exhausting I see my atypical mind as a gift. Other positives of ADHD can include:
- Hyper focus on interests
- Spontaneous engagement
All ADHD’ers are different, as always Xceptional’s approach with anyone regardless of their background or abilities is to ask the person.
Please Note: This article is based on my lived experience with ADHD and what I have learned about this condition. Please do not consider this as a scientific or factual analysis of the topic. I acknowledge that people with other types of neurodivergence have different lived experience which may be similar or different.