When we do not have the flexibility to accept "difference", even hyperfocus can be branded as a weakness! In this post, I write about how hyperfocus can be a resource and driving force for both children, adolescents and adults with ADHD.

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Hyperfocus is the key to the perfect ADHD job

Have you strayed into a job you can't stand? Refusal to work is a common problem for people with ADHD, and having a job that "fits" is incredibly important to you with ADHD.

This writes Zoë Kessler in his blog. Much of this article is inspired by that blog post. She further writes:

- Hyperfocus can be a key to finding a profession you are passionate about, that will keep you interested, and where you can excel.





The point is that people with ADHD not only have difficulty concentrating - they also have the opposite: an incredible ability to be hyperconcentrated about something - if the motivation / interest is present.

This trait is one of the most compelling things about ADHD, and contributes to many children (and adults) with ADHD being misunderstood, even by their loved ones. They can show an excellent ability to stay focused and be concentrated, but can other times be so unconcentrated and distracting that it becomes a serious handicap.





The explanation for this is relatively simple, and it is about motivation / interest. In other words: While people without concentration difficulties can manage to do "boring" tasks, this is almost impossible for people with ADHD. On the other hand, there is hardly any limit to what people with ADHD can do, as long as they have an interest in it!

 

Artistic and creative jobs

Zoë Kessler talks about how she made such realizations:

- In my company (...) I eventually specialized in working with the elderly with dementia, Alzheimer's, and aphasia that was under long-term care ... During intense observation (in other words: hyperfocus) I came to a deep understanding of the symptoms, behavior and experience of those living with dementia and Alzheimer's. 

- I had no formal training in geriatric psychiatry, but my observations and conclusions were confirmed when I brought in professionals who assessed the patients ... I was shocked at how accurate my interpretations had been, and how I by just seeing and listening developed an in-depth knowledge of these degenerative diseases.

Although these are just isolated examples, Zoë Kessler believes that this experience says something in general about having ADHD. The ability to hyperfocus and to "go their own way", means that many with ADHD may have special abilities in art or creative professions. She further writes:

- I can not speak for everyone, but I would guess that most professions in art benefit from a healthy dose of hyperfocus. When I wrote my first book (20 years ago, long before my ADHD diagnosis), I was happily hyperfocused throughout my writing career. Fourteen-hour sessions went by, and I even disliked taking breaks to get myself something to eat. I do not think I could have written the book without the ADHD blessing of my intense hyperfocus.

  

The paradox of ADHD: Both a learning disability and a learning advantage

She also writes that hyperfocus has its downside:

On the other hand, the level of distraction and lack of focus that you experience in your current job can be an indicator that there is a bad "match" between you and your job.

This is because people with ADHD excel to a great extent due to a lack of concentration, that they are forgetful, messy, fussy, and are not allowed to do tasks on time. Also, they can get tired of having to get along all the time. The paradox is that when they are put in a situation where they are passionately interested, it will be the exact opposite of concentration difficulties that come to light.

It is important to know that ADHD is a chronic condition, and that it is not just a matter of "getting along" and then the difficulty concentrating will disappear. The challenge is therefore to find work assignments for both children and adults with ADHD that really motivate!

Torill Fjæran Granum, head of SPISS publishing, recently wrote that we must stop using concepts such as learning difficulties - and rather talk about learning differences! This is not least the case with ADHD. This is not only a learning difficulty, it can also be a learning advantage - but in that case one must dare to let these children / young people / adults have the opportunity to deepen a special interest - and to use this as a gateway to both learning and functioning in working life!

Then we will soon discover that ADHD, as much as a disability, can be a resource!

 

Tips for finding the right job for you with ADHD

Zoë Kessler's advice for you who have ADHD and who are looking to find the dream job, is that you ask yourself the following questions:

 

  1. When have I been in a deep state of concentration lately?
  2. What hobbies or pursuits do I find almost impossible to tear myself away from?
  3. What skills do I have that I have learned on my own, just because I was interested?
  4. What topics can I not read enough about?
  5. What conversations stand out to me as very engaging?

The answers to these questions can point you in the direction of searching for a profession that you are naturally attracted to, and that you will be excellent at.

 

Tips for you who will provide education for children with ADHD

On the other hand, the same questions can be applied to you as a parent or teacher of a child with ADHD.

 

  1. When has the child lately been in a deep state of concentration?
  2. What hobbies or pursuits does the child find it almost impossible to tear himself away from?
  3. What skills does the child have that he has learned on his own, just because he was interested?
  4. What topics can the child not read enough about?
  5. What conversations stand out to the child as very engaging?

The answers to these questions can point you in the direction of which elements you do well to use in the education of this child, and which can bring out the best in the child.

 

To push them into the same track as everyone else

The question is whether we are willing to have a perspective on ADHD that both recognizes that it leads to a significant disability in the form of concentration problems, impulsivity and hyperactivity, and that we also recognize that the same characteristics can be a strength - in optimal situations. 

We face great challenges if we doubt that these children / young people / adults must be pushed into the same track as others: with dutiful learning of what others decide that they should be interested in. There are plenty of such situations in time during everyday life, and the defeats do not wait for those with ADHD.

My encouragement is therefore that we (family, friends, teachers, employers), as far as possible, allow the person to do tasks that arouse a special motivation / interest - even if it may not have been 100% after the book!