The Gift of ADHD

Studies suggest that many of the traits kids with ADHD exhibit can be expressions of deeper gifts: powerful imagination, searching insight and unusual intuition. Find out how to transform your child's problems into strengths.

Seeing the Big Picture

Children with ADHD are excellent at getting the big picture, in and out of the classroom. Students with ADHD may miss the little details, but they are masters at understanding the importance and meaning of material. For example, children with ADHD may be struck with wonder and awe at the miraculous workings of nature as they learn about photosynthesis and how plants take in sunlight to grow. They may wonder what happens in cloud-covered regions of the world and start to generate ideas for how to get sunlight to plants on cloudy days. As this example illustrates, children with ADHD are often deeply engaged in material in creative and novel ways. They may not remember any of the details about the roles of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the process of photosynthesis, but they are very curious and interested and typically try to create solutions to problems in creative ways.

Typical modes of assessment in the academic world involve being able to repeat small details of abstract processes. This is the most difficult way of learning for children with ADHD. There are few courses of study in the educational system that reward the startling gifts your child has to offer. The good news is that if your child can emerge unscathed from his education, he can find his niche in the real world that will reward him highly for his ardent curiosity, creativity, and ability to solve problems in innovative ways.


The Energy of Impulse

To think daringly original thoughts and to create new ideas or perspectives requires impulsiveness. Impulsiveness is the urge to do things or think things that are new and daring, that fall outside the boring grind of the everyday humdrum. Impulsiveness is the urge to forge ahead into new areas of thought and includes a tendency to be bored with whatever everyone else is doing or thinking. It is a necessary ingredient for forging new ground in any area of study or thought.

Distractibility is the tendency to shift one's attention to other arenas. It is the opposite of a horse with blinders plodding along carefully in the path determined by his master. In contrast, people who are distractible will pay attention to thoughts, feelings, or events in the environment that seem to call out to them. They cannot focus because they are enchanted with other aspects of their experience. This is also an essential aspect of creativity, which often manifests in the mixing together of ideas from different domains that seem separate or irrelevant to each other.

In Thom Hartmann's book Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception (1997), he describes how Thomas Alva Edison, who invented the lightbulb and about a thousand other things, was characterized by an easy distractibility. He was known to have forty different inventions in progress at one time. He would work on one until he got bored with it and move on to another one as inspiration hit. Another word for distractibility is "flexibility," and it can be put to use in groundbreaking innovation and productivity.

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