Wikipedia defines ADHD* as a neurobehavioral developmental disorder… typically presents itself during childhood, and is characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity, as well as forgetfulness, poor impulse control or impulsivity, and distractibility… currently considered a persistent and chronic condition for which no medical cure is available, although medication and therapy can treat symptoms… Methods of treatment usually involve some combination of medications, behaviour modifications, life style changes, and counselling… The scientific consensus in the field… is that ADHD is a disorder which impairs functioning, and that many adverse life outcomes are associated with ADHD.
This marvellous ADHD ability to “hyperfocus” is both a boon and a curse- especially when the ADHDer** is still at school.
Have you ever heard someone say: “He can focus on computer games for hours at a time, why can’t he finish his homework?” or “He can read a book for hours, so why can’t he complete his paperwork?” when speaking about an ADHDer?
Being able to hyperfocus means they are super successful at anything they want to do, or are interested in, until it gets boring- hence Richard Branson’s type of success (another real life ADHD hero). The Virgin genius starts a company, works like mad till it’s running smoothly and gets boring, and then starts all over again on another one! Ty Pennington (the very likable over-excitable host of “Extreme Makeover Home Edition”) is another real life ADHD hero with several businesses, a penchant for design, and a band over and above his TV show!
I could go on to name a few more- but that’s another post.
So, to state it very basically, the ability to hyperfocus is a great thing for an ADHDer because it means he can do whatever he puts his mind to and do it exceptionally well. And the things they can hyperfocus on often involve their natural talents- like with Phelps’ swimming and my Damien’s drawing. When an ADHDer hyperfocuses, he loses all sense of time and space.
Why is the ADHDer’s ability to hyperfocus a curse as well?
Well, for one thing, ADHDers find it incredibly difficult to get their brains to change gears- and this may sound strange when I say at the same time that they battle to focus. What happens is this. Lets say an ADHDer will starts the school day in English class, and goes from there to math, then to LO, then HSS etc. (and as they get older each class is with a different teacher as well). Where a non-ADHDer learns to change gears (so to speak) when the bell rings and starts thinking about the next subject as soon as they walk into a class, an ADHDer’s brain is sometimes still two classes back… and if it was a class they liked- it’s even harder to switch.
When they finish school, and go out into the working world or to varsity or college, often studying or working in a field they’re interested in- where this ability to hyperfocus serves most of them very well.
But school? School is boring… its repetitious. Repetition is the absolute bane of an ADHDer’s life- and this makes us parents lives exceptionally difficult because we have to try and motivate our knuckleheads every. Single. Day. PLEEEEASE just to do homework!
*I précised it a little, and I think it’s a very cool and very accurate definition- so thanx to whoever wrote it.
**I say “ADHDer” (pronounced simply as “adder”) instead of saying “a child diagnosed with ADD or ADHD”