Succeeding with ADHD as an adult
The author, Monica Hassall is an ADHD & Executive Function Coach at Connect ADHD in Queensland, Australia.
Finally, a study that can support my clients in moving forward! If you think it’s tough for kids with ADHD to thrive amongst the social stigma, then imagine how it feels for an adult with ADHD, given most of our population is not aware that ADHD may persist into adulthood. Late last year a study was released called “Positive Aspects of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.”
The majority of my clients are adults in their most vulnerable moments (no one comes to a coach because everything is fantastic) so as an ADHD and EF Coach, I’m in a position to see first-hand the difficulties my clients battle against every day.
Whether they be doctors, dentists, teachers, in between jobs, plumbers or university level students, despite their brilliance and talents, they are hurting. But they might not show it. They are often living a dual existence. Often labelled as affable, funny, crazy and laughing it off in their day-to-day existence, retreating when alone and feeling the effects of negative self-judgment, frustration and shame.
They already know what is going wrong, they live it and feel it. So how about we give them the language of what is and can work in their favour?
So what’s so good about being ADHD?
The brilliant Dr Ned Hallowell, a true pioneer for adults with ADHD (he himself being ADHD and also Dyslexic), embraces the differences that being ADHD brings. Dr Hallowell talks about how we “build a life on developed strengths”; and said recently on his podcast, that it is not the traits of ADHD that are the disability, it is when the traits aren’t managed – that is where the true disability is; with the anxiety, the negative self-talk and the unhappiness that comes with being misunderstood.
In a paper by Sedgwick, Merwood & Asherson (October 2018), called Positive Aspects of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder – A Qualitative Investigation of Successful Adults with ADHD, they outlined the following:
The behavioural characteristics of ADHD do no exist in a binary form, this meaning that it is not a case of being normal versus abnormal. The behaviours can be viewed as being more on a continuum or often referred to as a “spectrum”. This can be easily understood as we look at ADHD through challenges with inconsistent executive functioning.
An important basis to this are the concepts introduced by Martin Seligman and Mikaly Csiksgentmihalyi – the notion of positive Psychology and “flourishing”. This is an intentional move away from deficit focused view of mental health towards a more strengths based view emphasising the positive aspects, and importance of positive emotions, engagement, relationships and accomplishments.
Through the study, they noted that areas where participants with ADHD excelled were in the following areas:
Transcendence – the openness to experience, noticing beauty in the environment and associated feelings of awe, positive affect.
In summary, the article questioned the necessity to focus on the “disability” aspects of ADHD and see these traits as being valuable and worthy of conservation. It noted that not all symptoms or traits of ADHD are “maleficent”, detrimental or harmful, but rather positive, human qualities, assets and attributes that can promote high function and indeed “flourishing”.
Find out more about Monica Hassall at Connect ADHD
Photo by The Lazy Artist Gallery