Learn more about Attention Deficit Problems

Strengths that accompany Attention Deficit

Attention Deficit is almost always referred to as a disorder, as opposed to a trait, one which helps to define a person along with all of their other unique traits and abilities. Parents and teachers who are frustrated trying to manage inattentiveness and impulsivity often find themselves in a negative loop of punishment and acting out behavior. And the negative labeling associated with Attention Deficit often leave children suffering as they experience excessive criticism and disappointment. For this reason, many have pointed out the unique strengths that accompany the Attention Deficit traits listed above. Keeping these strengths in mind changes the way one sees the child with Attention Deficit, as well as the way one’s family, teachers, coaches and friends see them. If you know anyone with a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD, reminding yourself of these potential strengths will impact how you view and treat him or her.

Hyperfocus: While extremely inattentive and restless children may have trouble sitting through a 45-minute math lesson, they are able to hyperfocus, or pay deep attention, to things that interest them. If adults are tuned into the child’s interests, whether that be animals, botany, weather patterns, colors, or comics; the child can be encouraged to learn skills by focusing deeply on that interest (as opposed to doing homework which they don’t see the point in).

Leadership: Children with Attention Deficit have a different learning style, which can help other children learn.   For example, if a classroom is reading a story and the teacher wants to assess comprehension, children with Attention Deficit have trouble responding to auditory instructions. So, instead of answering the teacher’s questions about who the main character is in a story, a child may act out a scene from that story, becoming the main character. The child could also write a comic strip to depict the beginning, middle and end of the story. Learning studies have shown that children learn best when given information in multiple formats (auditory, visual, reading, writing, tactile). Children with Attention Deficit can be praised as leaders when they “teach” their classmates through their own individual learning styles.

Adventurous: The impulsivity often criticized in children with Attention Deficit actually makes them more adventurous and willing to take risks. This trait can be praised and also encourages other children (and adults) to explore and take more risks.

Creative: One of the traits more commonly praised in children with Attention Deficit is their creativity.

Social: Impulsivity is often framed in a negative light. But impulsivity is often intertwined with being social, eager, helpful and collaborative. These descriptions are much more boosting to a child’s self-esteem.

Next sectionCauses of Attention Deficit and Clinical ADD/ADHD

  1. I enjoyed reading this, thank you.

    There is another important differential diagnosis well worth mentioning. Symptoms resulting from traumatic experiences can overlap with ADHD symptoms. Point being, trauma may be an underlying cause of symptoms and should be assessed – this could change the treatment approach considerably. To learn more, check out the following: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23561240

    … and for a list of symptoms common to both PTSD and ADHD, please see:

    Also, if you want to learn more deeply about ADHD, I recommend the book “Scattered: how ADHD originates and what you can do about it” by Gabor Mate. This book is informed by years of personal and clinical experience, and provides some of the best explanations I have found for explaining how the “disorder” works.

    I am hopeful that ADHD treatment is advancing in a positive direction. Certainly I have seen that stimulant meds can help, but personally I am interested in incorporating non-pharmaceutical treatment approaches such as meditation and nature time.

    Do others have thoughts/opinions/experiences on the topic?

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