ADHD is not a deficit disorder. It is a distinction driver.
Why is it that ADHD is defined by deficits rather than strengths? The current definition for ADHD is Attention DEFICIT Hyperactivity DISORDER.
It is time to own and declare our many strengths because people with ADHD are like a Swiss Army Knife: Our potential expands every time we take on a project.
A strengths based definition of ADHD
A: Attention – You can pay attention when you have the structure and support that you need.
D: Distinction – Your abilities are numerous and you define yourself by your strengths and successes. You are unique and distinct from others.
H: Helpability – You are creative, curious, action oriented and feel most alive when you can take action.
D: Driver – You like to be in the drivers seat because there is more action, more stimulation. You may be the one in charge, or in charge of your part of a project. You have energy and drive and you can get things done. You are at your best when you have a map and like most people you do best when you have a co-pilot.
10 Reasons Why ADHD is an Advantage Rather Than a Deficit
You may not experience each strength in the same way that others do. You are unique and have your own strengths. Read the list below and ask yourself what you would add to the list. For more on Adult ADHD, read the 9 Things You Can Do if Adult ADHD has Friended You.
1.You are not your diagnosis
- Your life is not defined by any diagnosis you may receive. Diagnosis examines an illness or other problems by examining the symptoms. Your life is not a symptom. You are creative, compassionate, and you have a great amount of potential. Just like your doctor, your life is not defined by the letters that come after your name.
- You can focus on things that capture your attention. You quickly figure out what works and what does not work. You push yourself and the systems around you to become more creative.
- You may need to try more things until you find what works. And be prepared for that to change. You may need to experiment with different strategies for things like note taking by recording your notes, doodling your notes or drawing them.
3.You have your own way of making decisions
- At times, you can make quick decisions. Yes, that can sometimes get you in trouble. That is why you run your big decisions by people who care about you.
- Other times, you have difficulty making decisions because of too much information coming in. Limiting the number of resources you use, or putting a time limit on your research may help.
4.You love to feel busy
- You can tolerate numerous ongoing projects. Numerous projects at the same time can make it difficult to move one thing to completion. You may need to limit your open projects, or use a file system on your computer or desk to keep better track of your projects.
- You are excellent with change that you initiate, but you may need time to adjust to change that others make around you and especially when change is made for you.
- Hobbies can be one of the greatest ways to distract yourself. Drawing, painting, making graffiti sketches, designing computer games or programs, knitting or pretty much anything else you enjoy can improve your focus.
5.You are a creative learner
- You have creative piles around you. You can tolerate more mess and disorganization than most people. At times, this can make you more creative but it can also lead to greater distraction.
- Your constant searching and curiosity can make you creative and successful. Your search uncovers more. Your value may be that you don’t settle. A strategy you can use to avoid frustration is to periodically look back to remind yourself of what you have accomplished.
- You see links between seemingly unrelated items.
- Distraction is only a paperclip away. Read my article on the power of the paperclip. Sometimes distraction can be one of the best things you can do and it is a lot of fun. Use your need for distraction to recharge rather than avoid.
- You are a curious wanderer, asking questions and making the most of the journey. Curiosity is how you learn.
6.You are sensitive
- You experience a wide range of emotions, sometimes in just one hour. This can lead to a fuller life experience.
- Your relationships can be hurt by neglect. Talk openly and listen to the heart of the other person, not just their words. If someone cares about you and they make an effort to give you feedback or suggestions, take it seriously. Get help because your relationships help bring out your best.
7.You need to move
- Tell everyone that sitting is the new smoking. You are ahead of the research, sitting is overrated.
- Your body is telling you the best way to cope with stress: get up and move.
- You burn calories just sitting because your feet and your hands are moving even when you are not. Seriously, constantly moving burns more calories.
8.You have unique strengths and needs when it comes to following directions
- You may be a direction-phobe. You probably don’t have the time, the concentration or the need to follow directions when you put something together. Use that to your advantage. Be the person that helps whenever things need to be set up or put together.
- Following directions from people can be tricky. Writing things down is your best weapon. (See #2)
9.You can listen, you just do it differently
- Your ability to listen is strongest when you have something in your hand or when you are standing up. Use that to your advantage. Write it down, make a doodle, review it.
- At the end of a conversation, review what you will do. This is one of the best strategies to make sure you have something to act on rather than forgetting or being filled with regret.
10.You are a pro at Crastination
- Crastination is a real thing. Trust me, I wrote the definition at Dictionary.com.
- You may need strategies to help figure out your priorities. Writing your goals and priorities can be a pain, but knowing you have two main things to do is more helpful than having unlimited ideas in your head.
For more on Positive Psychology and becoming strengths based, read Positive Psychology: 5 Ways to Understand Your Strengths.
What would you add to the list? I would love to hear about it in the comments.
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Keep it Real
Photo by PracticalCures.com and Travis Isaacs
2 thoughts on “10 Reasons ADHD is an Advantage, Not a Deficit”
You aced that article bang on. I am 61 years young ADHD and I own it…didn’t come out of the closet until 1997 when youngest was diagnosed and when reviewing the questionnaire with the pediatrician I whoah nellied and thought..oh..is this what it is….heck..’tis me…humpty dumpty’s bride. THEN officially diagnosed with it in 2012 after a workplace dx of that and PTSD and other little assorted labels to keep me humming were affixed. Never medicated; Mother Earth and Nature are I need to get by and a lot of patience from those who watch me derail. That said, I have acted in amateur theater for 17 years (wanting to go back after 20 year absence)…I am avid reader and that is what definitely soothes me the most…I draw, paint, sketch and write poetry (started in past year with the written word). I also love to dance. My brain goes offline so often I wish I had a switch to pull to get me back on track, but I must admit as time goes on, each time is easier if I ALLOW myself the luxury of remembering to breathe and FOCUS. Now I need how to figure out how to bookmark or save this article…brilliant…THANK YOU.
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You are funny. Sounds like you have a great plan to manage your own realities. I think there are many adults like you and I, late diagnosis and not sure what to make of it. Life truly is an adventure.