One of the participants in my PhD study told me one day: "I think I'm learning to make my ADHD symptoms work for me". Although that may sound like a strange concept, it soon became obvious what he meant. He studied his behaviours, and became very aware of his ADHD-related weaknesses. For example, his friends told him that he could be very 'unsociable' at times when he was engrossed in his work, and that he should try not to be quite so irritable when they interrupted him. Their comments got him thinking, and he realised that his hyper-focus, enabled him to get through a great deal of work. "When I'm in the zone", he said, "the room could collapse around me and I wouldn't notice. I've come to value to zone, and work hard to get there." He also realised that once lost, his hyper-focus was difficult to regain. Once he understood that, he was able to explain it to his friends, who agreed to help by leaving him 'in the zone' when they went off for a coffee break.
The core symptoms which cause so much impairment in ADHD include Inattention, Impulsivity and Hyperactivity. There's no denying that they make life very difficult for people who struggle to fit society's mould. However, as authors Kelly & Ramundo point out in their book "You mean I'm not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?" aspects of those core symptoms can be 'turned around' to become an advantage:
Symptoms of Inattention, which include distractibility, can play an important part in the process of creativity, enabling the assortment of disjointed thoughts and ideas that come together in imaginative thinking. Hyperactivity, when purposefully channelled can result in highly productive individuals. Impulsivity symptoms can be translated into a need for action and 'getting things done'.
I'm running a workshop at LADS on Sunday 18th October, called "Making ADHD Work For You". The aim is not to trivialise ADHD. Instead, participants will be taught to recognise the symptoms of ADHD at work in their everyday lives. Such awareness can then be used to anticipate problems and develop strategies to prevent them. Finally, I'll be teaching participants to identify and optimise the 'positive' attributes of ADHD. Contact me on 0411 067 541 for more information.