Life with ADHD is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week-adventure!! If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with ADHD, then you know how challenging it can be at times. Unfortunately, most of our focus is on the “negative aspects and problems” of ADHD and rarely are the strengths or positive qualities of ADHD appreciated or celebrated!!
These amazing attributes are the other side of the coin so to speak. These are the assets, personal talents, strengths, genius of ADHD that enrich our world. They include such attributes as: out-of-the-box-thinking, creativity, innovative thinking, humor, musically intuitive, perseverance, adventurous, intelligent, charming, great problem solver, willing to take risks, curiosity, imaginative, tenacious, resilient, unique…just to name a few. Here are some of my favorites and real life stories and examples of these positive attributes of ADHD.
“The most successful people are those who are good at Plan B.” ~ James Yorke
Innovative, according to the dictionary, means using or showing new methods or ideas. People with ADHD are definitely “innovative!” Over the years some of my favorite clients have been young adults preparing to transition to college or out on their own for the first time. I will never forget the ingenuity of one of these students for how he used to get out of bed and to class in the mornings!
Like many people in college, waking up and getting out of bed for morning classes was a nightmare. Setting alarms often failed. Having someone physically shake him out of bed was never a sure thing. So one ADHD college student came up with a very innovative way of making sure he got out of bed and didn’t miss any of his morning classes.
Each night as he was getting ready for bed, he would go through the same routine. He would prepare the coffee to automatically go off in the morning and then set the alarm by his bed. However, experience had shown him that the alarm by his bed would seldom be enough to get him on his feet. To solve this problem, he made sure that as he readied himself for bed each night, he set the timer on the coffee pot to go off exactly five minutes after his alarm. His fail-proof innovation? The smell of coffee you’re thinking…nope.
When he made the coffee the night before, he made sure that the coffee carafe was not under the coffee maker! If he didn’t get up shortly after his bedside alarm went off, the morning coffee would end up all over the floor! According to him it never failed…that’s innovative!
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” ~ Andre Gide
In general, adventurers are in their element when they are discovering something new or experiencing something different. When my son with ADHD was young, he was always the one who had to be out front when we were hiking along the trail. Or the first to wade outside of the “safe” zone into unexplored waters in Australia when everyone else noticed the “beware of blue bottle jelly fish” warning sign. He was also the first to try things like sushi, enjoy the treasures of rock hounding and sign up for the Navy to “see the world”.
I am not surprised that adventurous people such as Columbus, Lewis and Clark and other explorers are now thought to have had an ADHD brain style. Who else but a person with ADHD would embark on an adventure where the end result is uncertain, perhaps even dangerous? The risk of death was high and each day unpredictable with possibilities of falling off the edges of the world, encountering strange beasts and never returning to your homeland and loved ones. People with this awesome quality of adventurous spirit know that with great risk comes great reward and people with ADHD are almost always at the front of the line when it comes to seeing adventure as a great opportunity when it might leave others dead in their tracks.
“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence transform a yellow spot into the sun.” ~ Pablo Picasso
A third favorite positive ADHD quality of mine is intelligence. Statistically, most people with ADHD have a higher than average IQ. Unfortunately, this innate intelligence does not always perform well on standardized tests or in the current academic structures, so this intelligence is overlooked or missed entirely. The difference is that the intelligence of a person with ADHD often cannot be measured by their GPA, standardized test scores, whether they turn their homework in, or their academic standing. Rather, persons with ADHD show their intelligence in such areas as:
- An aptitude in math, English, writing, sports, computers, performing or visual arts, nature, etc.
- Creative and productive thinking that generate new ideas and solutions and inventions
- Having a great sense of humor because they often see connections to ideas or concepts others miss
- The ability to become submerged (hyper focused) on a task that is innately interesting to them
- An innate sense of curiosity
It’s important to remember to include these other areas of intelligence when judging the “potential” of people with ADHD.
Everyone’s brain and ADHD are a bit different. We all have gifts and talents. With ADHD they might just look different…and that is not a bad thing. When we can appreciate these awesome ADHD qualities in ourselves and appreciate and honor these strengths in others…that is happiness.