ADHD - Learning Difficulty or superskill?

We hear a lot about ADHD these days via social media, with more adults becoming aware of the condition and some recognising traits in themselves. Whilst not all of these individuals will have ADHD many of them will and they just have not had a formal diagnosis.

There are two subtypes (Inattentive and hyperactive). Many people will associate ADHD with the hyperactive subtype. In fact, many of those undiagnosed will have the inattentive subtype, symptoms include distractibility, overlooks details, forgetfulness, difficulty regulating focus, listening difficulties.

The exact cause of ADHD is unknown, but the condition has been shown to run in families. Research has also identified a number of possible differences in the brains of people with ADHD when compared with those without the condition.
Other factors suggested as potentially having a role in ADHD include:
* being born prematurely (before the 37th week of pregnancy)
* having a low birthweight
* smoking or alcohol or drug abuse during pregnancy

ADHD can occur in people of any intellectual ability, although it's more common in people with learning difficulties.

But is it a learning difficulty or it is a superpower?

Having a non-linear way of thinking provides a great way of thinking when it comes to problem solving. Here is one person’s experience.

My brain jumps around, it is like a ping pong ball bouncing from one side of the room to another, but at super speed!

What helps me focus? For me I love silence, I hate background noise, I find it distracting. But I know others where headphones and music help them. We may all have ADHD, but we all have our own individual mechanisms to succeed in a neurotypical world. Caffeine also helps. Many people would think coffee and ADHD are a bad mix, but it has a weird calming effect on me, providing me with a dopamine fix and calming my brain down, weird or what?

What helps me to be more organised? I am so unorganized I look at others and wonder how they do it, it’s just not in my skill set.Planning my time is something I struggle with. I know I must be in the right‘mood’ to deliver top quality work. If I’m not my mind will wonder, and I will end up doing something completely unrelated. So having lists with varied tasks helps, that way I can pick something that does interest me (this changes hourly/daily). Highlighting them in assorted colours so I can see what the most urgent and important tasks are also helps me to prioritize, but skill gives me choice.

I’m forgetful! I must have a diary with birthdays, meetings,social events, anniversaries, deadlines, etc. Post-its are useful as I have lots of great ideas but if I do not write them down, I’ll forget them easily.If I have got a deadline for 10am on a Monday morning, chances are I’ll be working flat out on Sunday evening, the pressure seems to stimulate me, and I’ll go into hyperfocus more and work through the night if needed.

I’m not a good listener, sorry. Long meetings are painful! Not as in physical pain but I will zone out. I find it difficult when people don’t get to the point and my mind will drift off. Standing meetings which are short and to the point are great for me. It is not that I am not interested in what’s being said, just say it quick and get to the point.

These are just a few things I struggle with, but there are lots of things I am good at too. I am good in high stress situations when quick decisions need to be made. I am creative and always coming up with new ideas. I have an ability to look at something complex and break it down, simplifying the process. Hyperfocus is a real asset. If something piques my interest, it’s game on. I can tune everything else out and be completely absorbed in the task, everything else fades into the background. I can research for hours, devour information, and do this incredibly quickly, but if I lose interest, it will sit on a back burner for days, weeks, months… 

About the Author

Author would like to remain anonymous