The image that people seem to have of someone with ADHD is that of someone who can’t sit still. They think that these people can never manage to pay attention to one thing and end up jumping from task to task without getting anything done. Although this can be true, it’s not really the full picture.
In certain situations, they can focus on things for an absurd amount of time. In fact, people with ADHD can focus more intensely than most people can.
How It Really Works
James decided he wanted to go on the computer at home to research something he was really interested in. He sat there for hours and got really into his research, so much so that he didn’t notice his house was on fire until the fire department came and told him to get off the computer.
Despite that story being completely made up, it’s a good insight into the life of someone with ADHD. They can concentrate so hard on one task that everything else completely falls away. In our story, James probably didn’t even hear the fire alarm going off or smell the smoke in the air because he was so in his element.
The Name Is a Little Misleading
ADHD stands for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Some experts in the field, however, take issue with its name. They believe that the attention-deficit” part of it is the main reason why so many people have the wrong idea about the disorder. It leads people to believe that the people who suffer from it can’t pay attention at all.
However, the opposite tends to be true for most people with this illness. In reality, they can have a hard time focusing on some things but can fixate on things that they probably shouldn’t.
One of the main symptoms of ADHD is hyperfocus. This symptom makes people form a deep, intense concentration on something. It can be so intense that the person doing it will block out everything else around them. Unfortunately, this can also happen with tasks of little importance that distract them from the things that they really need to be doing.
Their Brains Reward Them For Hyperfocusing
The brain of someone with ADHD doesn’t produce enough dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine is a chemical that’s linked to one’s ability to focus whereas norepinephrine keeps your brain activity running.
Stimulation increases dopamine production in the brain, which can be crucial for someone with this disorder. They will often latch onto certain activities that they find the most stimulation from, such as playing a game or reading about something that interests them. This is the reason for hyperfocus.
It Can Be Used in a Good Way
Sadly, ADHD can be a dangerous disorder for sufferers. Teenagers with it are 36% more likely to be in a car accident and adults with it are up to 4 times more likely to be fired from work. As well as that, both teenagers and adults with ADHD are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.
However, with the right treatment, sufferers of this disorder can effectively learn to manage their symptoms. They can also learn to transform their hyperfocus into a healthier kind of focus. If they can do that, they can do anything from learning a new language to completing an online course or doing something creative like music or art.
Unlike most people, people with ADHD can’t choose what to focus on and they can’t pay attention on a consistent basis. With the help of a professional, they can learn to add more regularity to their focus. This means that they’ll still be able to concentrate intensely on something, but they will also be able to have more control over it.
The idea that people with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder can’t pay attention is completely false. In reality, they can focus much harder than most people can. The only difference is that they can’t control when, where, and how, they focus. Thankfully, with a good treatment plan, they can eventually learn to manage this.
Do you have ADHD? Share your experiences of hyperfocusing with us.