The first time that I heard about “the gifts of ADD” was in a book by Drs. Edward Hallowell and Peter Jensen. It is a book about how to more effectively parent children with Attention Deficit Disorder. This book encourages parents to help their children unwrap their gifts that ADD gives them. You might think that this is a strange idea. What would be a gift of Attention Deficit Disorder? The book, Superparenting for ADD, encourages the belief that the gifts of ADD are the “mirror traits” of some of the negative symptoms of ADD. The flip-side of these negative traits of ADD gives people with Attention Deficit Disorder a chance to excel.
When a child is in a classroom and can’t sit still, that’s a problem. It impacts their learning. The child starts to think of himself as “hyper,” and not in a good way. However, if a member of a team at work is tasked to find an answer to a production problem, and they go about it with energy and enthusiasm, that’s a good thing. In one case the symptom of ADD is negative and perceived as a problem. In the other case, it is helpful to have a high-energy player on a problem solving team.
There are many gifts that Attention Deficit Disorder confers on us as we move from childhood to our adult years and learn to turn the negative symptoms of ADD into the mirror traits that make our lives unique. These are some of the gifts that I enjoy.
Compassion and Empathy-Many children with Attention Deficit Disorder learn in school that they are different from most of their peers. Their distractibility, impulsivity, and excess energy set them apart in the classroom. Then, they have trouble completing and turning in assignments. This leads to being in trouble at school and often at home. When a child is in trouble he learns to feel sympathy for others who are having problems. Compassion and empathy form, and these are lifelong gifts that keep giving to others in our lives.
Creativity and Curiosity-I can look at a problem and be absolutely curious about how to solve it. My style is usually so different from others’. As a child, this caused problems. Asked by the teacher or my mom to complete a task, I would do it, but the result wasn’t anything that they expected. Now, as a teacher, this curiosity and creativity stands me in good stead as I unravel the riddles that are my students. I can think of many ways to teach one concept, and this helps with diverse learners.
Loving kindness-Because they understand about being pushed aside, loving kindness is something that kids and adults with ADD show to those that they trust. This loving kindness might be shown to another person, or it could be lavished on a companion animal.
Persistence- Do you have a stubborn child? That child can become a persistent adult who can push a difficult project to its conclusion. This task persistence can help a person who has unwrapped this gift to be a valued member of a team or to start their own business.
Youthful Outlook-In one of my graduate classes about Attention Deficit Disorder, the instructor said that people with ADD are about 30% behind their chronological age when it comes to social and emotional maturity. I never saw the research on that, but kids with ADD are often perceived as ”immature.” A zesty, older adult is often believed to be “young at heart” and to have a “youthful outlook.” Speaking from the perspective of an older adult, that’s not a bad thing!
Take a few minutes to reflect on the trials that you have had because of Attention Deficit Disorder. Have there been positive things that have come along with the negative? What mirror traits have you developed? How has Attention Deficit Disorder positively affected your life? Sometimes adults have to lead children into unwrapping their gifts that ADD graces them with. Two books that I highly recommend to help with this are Superparenting for ADD: An Innovative Approach to Raising Your Distracted Child and Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder. Both Dr. Edward Hallowell and Dr. Peter Jensen have a lot of personal experience with Attention Deficit Disorder. Their books, written in an easy-to-read style, can help you unlock the gifts of ADD for yourself and those that you love.
This is a ground-breaking book that asks parents to look at their children with loving eyes and to help them transform their negative traits of ADD to gifts. I highly recommend it.
Superparenting for ADD: An Innovative Approach to Raising Your Distracted Child
When you need a lot of information about ADD, go to Dr. Hallowell for easy to read and authoritative facts. This is one of the best books on ADD that I've ever read. It tells about children, college age students, and adults. This is another one that I had to buy for myself!
Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder