It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane—No, It’s ADHD Superpowers!
According to data reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are an estimated 6.1 million children in the US diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by impaired levels of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that begin in childhood and often persists into adulthood.
ADHD symptoms can present challenges to others that may consider those affected as being too distracted or too talkative. Those with ADHD can have weak executive-functioning skills and have trouble organizing time, planning, controlling emotions, and making decisions. In adults, ADHD is often associated with poor outcomes in academic achievement, work performance, and social relationships. But just as someone without sight can have exceptional hearing, those with ADHD may have a variety of skills and abilities, so-called "ADHD superpowers," others may not possess.
While not a diagnosis criterion, hyper-focus is a symptom of ADHD that many people see as contrary to the hyperactivity and inattentiveness symptoms normally associated with the diagnosis. Hyper-focus is characterized by very long periods of highly focused attention on something of interest to the person, such as work, hobbies, or other activities. A hyper-focusing person with ADHD can complete their task more efficiently because they can do it without distraction.
A study in the Journal for Attention Disorders found that parents and teacher see a majority of ADHD children as being resilient. People with ADHD face challenges every day, which may make them more practiced in overcoming setbacks than other people. Another study of adults with ADHD in London revealed that an ADHD person's need to balance overstimulation and boredom with a task or activity gives them an acute sense of self-awareness and therefore resilience.
A different study in the Journal for Attention Disorders found that adults with ADHD reported more real-world creative achievements and generated more original ideas when competing for a bonus. ADHD requires those affected to approach problems from a different perspective and therefore come up with more creative solutions.
Being talkative can be both a curse and superpower for those with ADHD. On the positive side, they can generate interesting conversations. The London-based study also found those with ADHD had higher levels of social intelligence, humor, and empathy.
People with ADHD are not afraid to let their impulsiveness lead them on spur-of-the-moment adventures where they enjoy the moment without worrying about any long-term implications. Participants in the London-based study described being adventurous, spontaneous, and impulsive as fun, with some attributing the numerous things they achieved and places they saw as being driven by their ADHD.
While the negative aspects of ADHD-driven hyperactivity can be disruptive to classmates and work colleagues, that hyperactivity and energy can be a great advantage when movement is required, such as in sports. Often that boundless energy means someone with ADHD can outlast everyone else on the field, the court, the track, the rink, or the mat.
One of the best examples of an individual turning their ADHD superpowers of high energy, hyper-focus, and creativity into a Hall of Fame career is basketball great Michael Jordan.
Sherrell, Z. (2021, July 20). 6 strengths and benefits of ADHD. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/adhd-benefits