The Gifts of ADHD

Health Writer

Last week, at the ADDA conference, I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Ned Hallowell speak on "Unwarapping the Gifts of the Mind." Dr. Hallowell is the founder of The Hallowell Center, a treatment center based on finding strengths within each person. The following post is based on his speech at the conference.

Dr. Hallowell addressed the debate on whether ADHD is good or bad. He looks at ADHD differently, however, and his answer to this question is, "Bring out the best, focus on strengths and get rid of the obstacles."

When someone is diagnosed with ADHD, there is generally an idea that "something is broken and must be fixed." Because of this, doctors and caregivers often focus on the person's faults. This is based in the reason behind medical science. When a person is physically sick, medical science looks for ways to cure the sickness. It looks for ways to end any illness and stop the pain a person may have. For example, if someone has a disease of the kidney, medical science seeks to determine why the kidney is not functioning properly and doctor's will work hard to correct the illness and bring the kidney back to a functioning state.

When a person is diagnosed with ADHD, often the same philosophy is brought into play. There must be "something wrong." The patient believes they are defective and must be fixed.

While this works for physical illness, it does not necessarily work for ADHD. Looking instead for the positives can instill hope, realistic hope into a patient. Dr. Hallowell explains it like this: "ADHD is like having a "Ferrari" mind, with faulty brakes. While ADHD may be problematic, it can also be magnificent." Instead of taking your time and energy to try to be normal, Dr. Hallowell explains, be proud of the turbo-charged mind you have.

Accept the gifts of ADHD and look at the positives:

  • Distractibility can be viewed as curiosity.

  • Impulsiveness is the beginning of creativity.

  • Hyperactivity is the high energy and the spontaneity of life.

Everyone, not just those people with ADHD, have both strengths and weaknesses. It is the ability to focus on the strengths that make people successful. Our mind will believe what we tell it. If we continue to remind ourselves of what we can accomplish, rather than what we cannot accomplish, we will set a course for achievement.