What Is ADHD?
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Top 10 ADHD Facts
1. A Neurobiological Condition
It is not a behavioural disorder/mental health condition.
2. An Invisible Condition
You can’t see the workings of the brain – that’s why ADHD is so stigmatised! If your leg is broken, you can see it and accommodations will be made. ADHD can often be missed when hyperactivity is internal ie “cognitive hyperactivity” – the brain is going so fast but not the body, so it can often appear as “daydreaming”.
3. A Paradox
ADHDers often have incredible weaknesses in mundane day to day activities and events but incredible strengths in grasping quite complex concepts (…particularly if the concept itself is authentically interesting by virtue of its subject matter, novelty or urgent/otherwise stimulating nature).
4. A Case of Situational Variability
An ADHDer may perform poorly in the classroom where they are forced to sit still, listen passively to a teacher and regurgitate information and yet excel when they are tasked with a creative project on a topic that they are interested in and have to present it to the class. Similarly, an ADHDer may perform well for a teacher that they like and not perform at all for a teacher that they do not like. It is a case of situational variability. An ADDer once given the freedom will choose an environment that is right for them so that their ADHD is no longer (or less of) an impairment.
5. A Lifelong Condition
ADHDers don’t grow out of ADHD as previously thought – external hyperactivity can become cognitive hyperactivity - but the hyperactivity will still be there.
6. Not usually a Stand-Alone Condition
An ADHDer will usually have, or develop, other co-morbidities such as anxiety disorder, autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder and/or other specific learning disabilities. Often it can be very difficult to identify which condition is responsible for which trait as there is so much overlap.
7. Different from one ADHDer to the next
No two people with ADHD are the same. In addition to the three official sub-types ie predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive and combined type, within those sub-sets, typical ADHD traits such as executive function deficiencies and emotional dysregulation can vary hugely from ADHDer to ADHDer. Also differences in IQ, the presence of co-morbidities, environment etc will play a part.
8. Not really a deficit of Interest
ADHDers often get too interested and can hyper-focus on those things that they are authentically interested in to the exclusion of everything else for hours on end. Attention in these situations is anything but lacking!
9. Highly genetic
ADHD runs in families… if a child has ADHD, there is a good chance that one or both parents have ADHD as well!
10. A Superpower
Well it can be… so long as an ADHDer learns to manage the challenges and harness the strengths associated with having ADHD and stays away from Kryptonite (which in an ADHDer’s case is boredom). ADHD Coaching is hugely beneficial for ADHDers in this respect.
Top 25 ADHD Traits
Top 25 ADHD Traits
1. Hot-wired for interest (authentic interest) and novelty (not importance!)
2. Hypersensitive and experience life more intensely than others (and often don’t know it!)
3. Often mistaken for Narcissists
ADHDers are highly sensitive but not sensitive to others’ issues usually due to the fact that they have run out of bandwidth.
4. Often overwhelmed (by both positive and negative emotions)
5. People Pleasers (…genuinely!) This doesn’t help ADHDers set or maintain boundaries which can result in more overwhelm.
6. Boundary Blind (due to inattention/impulsivity)
7. Impulsive and not able to easily hit the pause button
8. In the “Now” only
ADHDers don’t feel time the way neurotypicals do and can’t really connect to their future self. This often means ADHDers will misjudge how much time they have to do tasks and often end up running late or even missing appointments. It is often the case ADDers take on way too much than they can handle as they are also stimulated by opportunities.
The ADHD brain tends to go straight to the negative – it is quicker, more stimulating and generally easier to do due to the survival mechanism in the brain. Coaching is so beneficial as it focuses on possibilities which opens up the brain through curiosity and creativity.
10. Not just “oppositional”
You cannot tell an ADHDer what to do – if you do they will fight like a cornered animal as they experience an intense feeling of confinement – Ask, don’t tell. This is precisely why ADHD coaching is so effective!
11. Often misunderstood
…for not wanting to do the right thing ie listen, sit still, remember things etc when it is really a matter of them not being able to do those things due to their ADHD brain. This is where strategies formulated through ADHD coaching can really help.
12. Busy multi-taskers
ADHDers do things so quickly that they are rarely peaceful. ADHDers should do one thing at a time and not be involved in more than 2-3 projects at once.
13. Sprinters, not marathon runners
ADHDers build projects as sprints, do them intensely, run through the tape and don’t honour the time to rest between sprints! As a result, they can often suffer from burn-out.
14. Great starters but can be poor finishers
ADDers do a task up until they feel they are finished or have otherwise lost interest. The task is not necessarily complete however ie they may have finished a writing task, but files are piling up on the desk and need to be put away.
15. Verbal processors
If ADHDers don’t process ideas/thoughts/feelings out aloud then they are often not aware of them. Before ADHDers can solve anything, they need to process these things. Warning - once interrupted, they will need to start over!
16. Highly addictive
The ADHD brain has a propensity towards addiction due to what is happening with the reward pathway in the brain. The key is to help the ADHDer find healthy addictions because if you eliminate one addiction, they will substitute it with another!
17. More immature than their peers of the same age
ADDers are often a whole stage of development behind their neurotypical peers of the same age.
18. In their heads and often highly articulate (but not actually in tune with their feelings/body )
ADHDers are highly creative, impulsive, need to make their own decisions and cannot usually be in a structured job unless they are authentically interested in their job (via the subject matter, novelty, challenge, urgency or other such stimulation).
20. More effective when they are doing tasks for others
21. Associative thinkers
ADHDers bring disparate things together and naturally make associations to others’ surprise because they have so many interests.
22. Great in a crisis!
Crisis ignites the ADHD brain and makes the ADHDer more present. ADHDers generally take in more information than others and can make quick and good decisions.
23. Their own harshest critics
ADDers are not self-compassionate and because they have often forgotten what they have achieved, they keep on trying to achieve more. For this reason, there is a sub-set of ADHDers who are high-achievers.
24. Mentally restless and always looking for the next thing
ADHDers need to be “doing” – kinetic energy builds up in the body and if there is not a healthy outlet for it, it will come out in a negative way. This is why exercise is so important!
ADHDers find it very difficult to make decisions/settle due to the desire to “maximise” ie look for the best. This could be due to feelings of inadequacy, limiting beliefs and/or due to forgetting the process ADDers have been through to make a decision. It is a combination of traits that results in this pervasive perfectionism: “the ADHD perfect storm”.