I am writing this in response to a negative comment I received last month on this older post I had published back in Aug 2009.
The author of the comment seemed extremely opposed to the idea that there could be anything at all positive about ADHD, in fact he is very confident in his statement that “ADHD has NO positive symptoms.” . He also stated that “the idea that ADHD has benefits is an urban myth“. He seemed to imply that I don’t have my facts straight, and that I was devaluing my son by crediting an illness with certain positive traits that are enhanced and heightened by his ADHD. He also implied that I am doing my son “more harm than good, by trying to convince myself that the bad symptoms are balanced by supposed good ones in order to make myself feel better about his condition“.
He also seems to assume that I have done NO “real” research what-so-ever on this devastating disorder that has turned our lives completely upside down.
He suggests I come to terms with the fact that Leon has a mental disorder. And if I do not choose to manage illness properly I will be setting him up for a huge amount of problems later in life. He put it this way “you can either come to terms with the fact that most of the behaviors you described are NOT positive now… or you can come to terms with it when he ends up in financial trouble or addicted to something or a thief or unable to hold a steady job“.
Woo-boy was I really steamed up about this!! So much so that I just could not respond… not yet anyway. I just could not stop thinking about it, I was just so mad at this man. This bitter, bitter, evil, uninformed man, with a chip on his shoulder. I did read a bit of his blog, as he suggested I do, so I knew where he was coming from. Even so I was still pissed off. So I had to step away from it for a while.
Now as I reread it all I am still quite annoyed by it all, but at the same time I mostly feel very, very sorry for this man. It seems that with his recent diagnosis of ADHD, he has found something to blame for all the bad things that have gone on in his life without needing to take ownership of it. Going through life focused on how much it sucks because you have ADHD, just makes for a very miserable life!
On the Positive Side….
I can agree with him on one point, and that is we have a choice about how to manage ADHD. But I wonder if he understands that there is no one right or wrong way of doing it. Every person’s struggle and accomplishments with ADHD are unique onto themselves. What works for one may not work for another. And just the same what may work this week, or this month, or even this year may not work in the next one.
I have in fact come to terms with Leon’s neurological disorder, ADHD, which is classified as a mental disorder, as well as a disability. I have done the ‘real’ research and have educated myself about my son’s ADHD. I’ve read dozens of books and articles, joined CHADD and attended several meetings, consulted with wonderful doctors and professionals in the field of ADHD, including psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists, and therapists. The psychiatrist who diagnosed him started us on our ADHD journey, we found an exceptional psychologist who did an extremely thorough educational/behavioral assessment on him, and confirmed the diagnoses of ADHD/ODD and made some very good suggestions for us and the school to follow. His neurologist has him on the right medication combination of Concerta and Clonodine, they work wonders in keeping him stabilized and putting his inhibitions, impulsivity, and inattentiveness in check. We as a family visit a therapist, specializing in special education and social skills, regularly. His school has a wonderful team of people who are implementing his 504 Plan, including the school psychologist, a OT, and a TA.
And with all the bad that we experienced last year when he was just 6 years old; from hour-long homework sessions, to having to replace a toilet bowl due to his flushing several toothbrushes, to his public and private temper tantrums, to stabbing his OT teacher with a pencil, to journaling about killing his parents, to cutting his clothing while they are still on him, to having him fear going to school because he knew he would get in trouble yet again, to the school losing him, to him jumping out of his bedroom window at 5am, to so much more….; there is still NO ONE who can tell me that there is nothing positive about ADHD!!!
~~psst! did you notice all the links to previous posts? you can get the back story that way~~
Here are some excerpts about the positive side of ADHD:
In addition to the challenges, there are also positive traits associated with people who have attention deficit disorder:
- Creativity – Children who have ADD/ADHD can be marvelously creative and imaginative. The child who daydreams and has ten different thoughts at once can become a master problem-solver, a fountain of ideas, or an inventive artist. Children with ADD may be easily distracted, but sometimes they notice what others don’t see.
- Flexibility – Because children with ADD/ADHD consider a lot of options at once, they don’t become set on one alternative early on and are more open to different ideas.
- Enthusiasm and spontaneity – Children with ADD/ADHD are rarely boring! They’re interested in a lot of different things and have lively personalities. In short, if they’re not exasperating you (and sometimes even when they are), they’re a lot of fun to be with.
- Energy and drive – When kids with ADD/ADHD are motivated, they work or play hard and strive to succeed. It actually may be difficult to distract them from a task that interests them, especially if the activity is interactive or hands-on.
Keep in mind, too, that ADD/ADHD has nothing to do with intelligence or talent. Many children with ADD/ADHD are intellectually or artistically gifted.
The symptoms of ADD/ADHD are not all negative. People with ADD/ADHD also have many positive traits that are directly tied to their active, impulsive minds. The important part is to focus on the positive aspects, while trying to control the negative aspects.
- Creativity: People with ADD/ADHD often excel at thinking outside of the box, brainstorming, and finding creative solutions to problems. Because of their flexible way of thinking about things, they tend to be more open-minded, independent, and ready to improvise.
- Enthusiasm and spontaneity: People with ADD/ADHD are often free spirits with lively minds — qualities that makes for good company and engrossing conversation. Their enthusiasm and spontaneous approach to life can be infectious.
- A quick mind: People with ADD/ADHD often have the ability to think on their feet, quickly absorb new information (as long as it’s interesting), and multitask with ease. Their rapid-fire minds thrive on stimulation. They adapt well to change and are great in a crisis.
- High energy level: People with ADD/ADHD often have loads of energy. When their attention is captured by something that interests them, they can have virtually unlimited stamina and drive.
Hyperfocus: A Positive Symptom of ADD/ADHD
While adults with ADD/ADHD have great difficulty maintaining attention, those same individuals often are able to “hyperfocus” for long periods of time on tasks or projects that they find interesting. This is particularly true of interactive or hands-on activities. They may even be compulsive about it, spending hours immersed in the activity without a thought to anything or anyone else. When they’re “in the zone,” people with ADD/ADHD often lose all concept of time. Hours pass as if they are minutes. This single-minded ability to hyper focus when used appropriately can lead to significant accomplishments, discoveries, and creative breakthroughs.
In the video,
(which I very, very, strongly recommend and urge you to watch)
~Dr. Edward M. Hallowell says; “Without proper diagnosis ADD can ruin your life, having said that, the tremendous good news is, if you get the diagnosis and you get proper treatment, not only can you avoid all those disasters, you can achieve spectacular success. You can be at the absolute pinnacle, not only in the terms of success, but in happiness, fulfillment, and a rich and wonderful life”.
~He also says; “It’s important to embrace a strength based approach that does not in any way deny that there is a downside but emphasizes the positive as a way of developing the positive”.
~It is also pointed out that, Dr. Lynn Weiss Ph.D, a ground-breaking pioneer who has been working with ADD patients for over 30 years, lists 29 Positive Attributes of ADD.
As listed in her book Attention Deficit Disorder In Adults: A Different Way of Thinking
2. Empathetic with the feelings of others
3. Feels things deeply
4. Creative in nature (including problem solving)
6. Often sees things from a unique perspective
7. Great at finding things that are lost
8. Perceptually acute
9. Stand-up comic
13. Open and un-secretive
14. Eager for acceptance and willing to work for it
15. Responsive to positive reinforcement
16. Doesn’t harbor resentment
17. Quick to do what one likes to do
18. Difficult to fool
19. Looks past surface appearance to the core of people, situations, and issues
20. Down to earth
21. Good networker
22. Sees unique relationships between people and things
23. Cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary
24. Less likely to get in a rut or go stale
25. Original, with a sense of humor
28. Intense when interested in something
29. More likely to do things because they want to than because they should, thus often wholehearted in efforts
Keep in mind not everyone who has ADHD has all these traits, and sure people who aren’t ADHD have these traits too, but many of them appear over and over in people with ADHD.
So you see, not only have I read about the positive side to ADHD, gone to lectures about the positive side to ADHD, and spoken with professionals about the positive side to ADHD, but we have experienced the positive side of ADHD as well
Leon has become extremely well-adjusted, all the school’s accommodations along with our accommodations here at home, and his being on the right medication regime and seeing a therapist regularly are making all the difference in the world. We are teaching him to play to his strengths and never to use his ADHD as a scapegoat.
We do not in any way deny the negatives of ADHD, yet we CHOOSE to remain on the positive side.
And would you believe we are all doing just fine, Thank you very much!?!
More links on the positive side of ADHD
Positive Aspects of ADHD and ADD: Benefits to Having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder
The Positive Side of ADHD
I just want to add that I in no way harbor any resentment to the person who prompted this post. Nor do I think he is Evil. 🙂 I wish him only the best, and many, many, positive things in his journey going forward with his ADHD!!