I have given many talks on the topic of AD/HD. I like to think that I leave my audience with a better understanding of how the disorder affects people, as well as some practical strategies for dealing with AD/HD-related challenges. On most occasions, however, I also walk away with new insights thanks to my audience. A talk to youth workers some years ago was no exception. The man in the front row had seen more than his fair share of young people with AD/HD struggling to make sense of a seemingly hostile worl, and he'd observed one of their 'gifts':
"I think Attention Deficit's a stupid name Michele! Theres's no deficit of attention at all. That's why I call it Super Observant Syndrome - SOS for short."
He's right of course - there is no attention deficit - but there is an attentional bias. I've witnessed the uncanny abilities of some people with AD/HD to take in every conversation in a room. Driving home from a restaurant, they fill their families in on all the interesting scenarios that were playing out around them, while most people were concentrating on their lamb shanks! People with AD/HD make fantastic Emergency Room Doctors and nurses, keeping tabs on twenty-five things occurring simultaneously. They also make great chefs, turning out many meals simultaneously. But first they have to survive school! Let's work with these exciting brains to develop their SOS, rather than punish them for it!