Sitting here listening to the steady beat of the raindrops outside I am transported to a place of quiet and relaxation and harmony. Hang on a minute it's the half term holidays!!!!! What's going on? Even when my other three children are outside playing, my daughter with ADD is always about stuck like glue, talking non stop, being bored, losing her temper as she does not cope well with the change in routine that is the school holidays.
Panic stations creep in; maybe she has gone outside without me knowing or maybe she is downstairs with the scissors for art and omg I left her unsupervised ARGH. Heart in mouth. I literally leg it downstairs and then stop dead. When will I learn it's not always something bad?
You see 30 minutes ago I came upstairs while she was starting another one of her art projects. What's this I hear you say... she's sitting still, concentrating, focused on one thing instead a myriad of different tasks in a matter of minutes? Does she have ADHD? Maybe it's a misdiagnosis?! But you see art is her passion, she loves to draw and make. Of course this does not stop the panic... having a child who is impulsive means hardly a minute goes by without me worrying what she is going to do next and even though she is nearly 11 that has not changed, factor in the memory, concentration and emotional factors of ADHD/ADD it's hard to grasp that there is an alien concept that means she can stay focussed and in one place for more than five minutes.
This concept is real and quite amazing and known by some as an ADHD super power.... It's called hyper focus...
What is hyper focus?
A short definition from www.healthline.com is: "Hyper focus is the experience of deep and intense concentration in some people with ADHD. ADHD is not necessarily a deficit of attention, but rather a problem with regulating one's attention span to desired tasks. So, while mundane tasks may be difficult to focus on, others may be completely absorbing"
I can see why this symptom of ADHD could be misinterpreted. I was never told by the ADHD nurse about hyper focus. I spent moments grappling with my decision to medicate and attend appointments when this symptom popped up, was I wrong was she in fact fine and not have a neurodevelopment disorder??
Talk about learning something new everyday and giving yourself a heart attack. There is no way I would have put hyper focus as part of the ADHD.
How hyper focus affects the whole family....
This peculiar symptom of ADHD can cause arguments and stress within the family. My daughter is so focussed on the task at hand that sometimes its a real struggle to get her to move onto something else. In the case of art work this is fine I don't mind her doing art for as long as she likes as she is expressing herself and learning from the environment but it's when the hyper focus gets stuck on things like the maths games on the laptop. Again you would not necessarily think that would be an issue but when she is so focussed it is very difficult to try and get her to relinquish the laptop so that she can do something else. Plus she becomes completely shut off from the world around her and as the definition says very absorbed, yes she is quiet but she also can't answer questions and can become angry and frustrated if the laptop is taken away as it is every evening at least an hour if not more before bed.
Hyper focus can be viewed by some as an amazing ability and it is when it's in the right context and it's something that empowers my daughter. The amazing confidence and love that she has for the art that she does is an amazing thing. There are times that I love to sit and watch the magic take hold of her. Watching a picture emerge and seeing the focus and dedication she gives the project to make it the best she can is amazing. But for those of us around a child or adult who has it its also frustrating, annoying, upsetting, it winds up siblings, it quite frankly winds me up sometimes. It's almost like she is startled out of a trance and that invokes all sorts of feelings to bubble up due to the interruption, her concentration is broken and it can feel like hell on earth.
So super power or not?
I think that it is a super power if it can be directed in a positive way but as with everything there will be days when the super power strikes and it's the villain not the hero who has come out to play and to be honest those are really hard days when you cant win the argument and you can't keep everyone happy. Stay strong though we are parents with our own superpowers.
x leanne x