In Canada, an estimated 5% of school-aged children are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, more commonly known as ADHD (2006/2007 Canadian National Population Health Survey). ADHDers have differences in their brain that affect regulation of attention. ADHD impacts people at work, school, home, and in friendships.
ADHD is often diagnosed in childhood, but they will not 'grow out of it.' ADHD continues to have a lasting impact through adulthood, although the presentation may change. You may have also heard of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), although ADHD is the medically accepted term. ADHD includes three different presentations: Hyperactive, Inattentive, and Combined. To read more about the symptoms of ADHD, check out this ADDitude Mag article.
ADHDers make up a portion of the neurodivergent population. Neurodiversity focuses on our brain difference, not deficits. Developmental disorders are normal variations of the brain, and ADHD is one of them. Furthermore, people with neurodivergent brains have strengths that should be celebrated and encouraged.
Here are all the reasons to appreciate ADHD:
ADHDers are passionate and driven. They are quick learners, especially when it comes to areas of interest, and there is no shortage of enthusiasm. Remember, there is difficulty in regulating attention, not in having attention.
ADHDers love adventure, and often have a passion for new and exciting experiences. They aren't afraid to take risks, which often means they reap the rewards. Adventures often lead to valuable lessons or can completely change the course of our lives. Remember that taking a risk does not mean that it is unplanned or random, and that's why the payoff can be so great.
You might be thinking that ADHDers are master procrastinators, but they actually work great under pressure. They are fast-thinking, spontaneous, and make quick decisions. Intuition is the ability to understand something without conscious reasoning, and our ADHD friends are said to have some of the best intuition.
One of my favourite things about my ADHD friends is their ability to, "Work smarter, not harder." They are creative at utilising resources, often inventing gadgets to make things more efficient. Special interests often lead to innovation and entirely new skill sets.
Many leaders and CEO's are ADHDers, and there's no surprise why. The passion that they have is helpful in motivating others, and they’ll say the things that other people are afraid to say. ADHDers make excellent leaders, and often find themselves creating their own businesses. Many ADHDers find that sitting at a desk in a typical 9-5 gig is not conducive to their lifestyle. Entrepreneurship is often a viable option, giving them flexible hours and room for their creativity to thrive.
ADHD comes with big emotions, but also big compassion. This means understanding other people's emotions, but can also mean sharing these feelings. Because of their (at times) limited impulse control and difficulty regulating attention, ADHDers often come across as self-centered. This is why we often work to develop co-regulation skills with our ADHD friends. Co-regulation can be used when we take on others' emotions, or for comforting the people around us.
"Follow the dopamine." - Connor DeWolfe
Remember that it is more useful to think about ADHD as difficulty in regulating attention - turning your attention to something you are expected to do, rather than something you find rewarding (Driven to Distraction, 2011). ADHDers are thought to have different levels of dopamine than their non-ADHD counterparts. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that allows us to regulate emotional responses and take action. It is also responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward. To assist in regulating attention, ‘follow the dopamine.’
Here are some of the ways to increase dopamine levels:
Try something new.
‘Gamify’ a task that is not engaging.
Listen to music that you enjoy.
Exercise and move your body regularly.
Get enough good quality sleep.
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