ADHD Strengths and Positive Personality Traits

I just wrote a blog about understanding ADHD and found myself writing out the same tendencies and symptoms you’ve probably seen a million times before. The problem is that the list focuses on the negatives of the “disorder.” The truth is that ADHD is neurological in nature and can also be explained as just different brain wiring. Think of it as being left handed in a right handed world.

At this point, you may be thinking “Yeah, yeah, but what can I do to fix it?”

Before you try to eradicate the “symptoms” completely, think about the advantages of an ADHD wired brain. Here is a completely different list of questions that susses out the positive personality traits of ADHD.

ADHD Strengths

  • Do you have lots of energy and enthusiasm?
  • Do you like to try new things?
  • Are you an idea person?
  • Are you intuitive?
  • Are you driven in the area of your passion?
  • Do you have a great imagination?
  • Are you a great problem solver?
  • Are you able to bring a high level of concentration to something you’re interested in?
  • Are you empathetic?
  • Are you easy going?
  • Do you have a strong desire to contribute?

Look at Past Successes for ADHD Strategies

A couple of blogs ago, I referenced an article written by ADHD experts Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D. I keep going back to it because its 50 ADHD management tips really got me thinking.

Tip number 47 advised people with ADHD to make a conscious effort to schedule activities with friends to keep connected. There wasn’t a whole lot more to the bullet point, but its inclusion on the tip list helped me to make my own epiphany: I’ve successfully self-managed an ADHD tendency all on my own. That’s right, I’m that insightful and resourceful!

You Are Your Own Best Resource: Past Successes for ADHD Strategies

That being said, I don’t think I’m the only insightful and resourceful person with ADHD. Anyone who’s lived with the brain wiring and functioned at all has developed strategies, whether or not they recognize them as such.

When it comes to scheduling activities with friends, I long ago recognized that I need the social connection; but if I don’t schedule social activities at least a day in advance, they simply won’t happen. I need the scheduled activity as a goal to get from point A to point B. In this case, point A refers to being asleep in bed and point B refers to being dressed, out of the house and interacting. I don’t know why I can’t seem to be more spontaneous with social plans, but it apparently is just one more of those pesky brain-wiring tendencies.

In the end, the why doesn’t really matter. In fact, I’d say labeling it as an ADHD tendency doesn’t matter either. After all, why is someone born with two left feet when it comes to dancing or running or…painting? Sometimes, a “tendency” is another terms for describing how a person operates. When it comes to scheduling appointments with friends, I can fight it or I can work with it. And apparently, I figured out what works for me even before I received the ADHD diagnosis. All it took was a little bit of self awareness.

Are ADHD and Asperger Labels an Advantage or Disadvantage?

I have a natural aversion to labels. They pigeon hole people and in some cases limit them. I’m not alone in this belief. When my son was first diagnosed with ADHD and Aspergers “tendencies,” our family therapist shied away from wanting to give the “tendencies” clear ADHD and Asperger labels at the school level.

In other words, while my son might have benefited from additional resources available through special education, the labels could follow him through his academic career and affect how he was perceived and treated by his peers and teachers. The decision of whether or not to officially take advantage of special education resources became a weighing game between how strongly he was impacted by his “tendencies” and the possible negative consequences of acknowledging them. We chose to get resources outside of the school system.

Looking back, I’m still not sure if we made the right decision. I do know, however, that the only way to combat whatever negative associations people have regarding ADHD and Asperger’s Syndrome is to arm them with knowledge and awareness. While neither condition should be used as an excuse, understanding how the tendencies of both ADHD and Aspergers can affect behavior can avoid a lot of hurt and misunderstanding. Knowledge gives friends, family and teachers a place to start toward building a win-win relationship.

Once upon a time, I worked with a woman with whom I now suspect had Aspergers tendencies. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, and the result was that I took a lot of her social faux pas personally. In fact, I developed a healthy dislike for her. These days, armed with information and knowledge about both ADHD and Aspergers, my feelings about her are more about regret. If I had better understood her at the time, I could have better understood some of our interactions and been less likely to take offense. In some respects, then, a label could have been a little freeing, for both me and her.

ADHD Strengths and Positive Personality Traits

I just wrote a blog about understanding ADHD and found myself writing out the same tendencies and symptoms you’ve probably seen a million times before. The problem is that the list focuses on the negatives of the “disorder.” The truth is that ADHD is neurological in nature and can also be explained as just different brain wiring. Think of it as being left handed in a right handed world.

At this point, you may be thinking “Yeah, yeah, but what can I do to fix it?”

Before you try to eradicate the “symptoms” completely, think about the advantages of an ADHD wired brain. Here is a completely different list of questions that susses out the positive personality traits of ADHD.

ADHD Strengths

:

  • Do you have lots of energy and enthusiasm?
  • Do you like to try new things?
  • Are you an idea person?
  • Are you intuitive?
  • Are you driven in the area of your passion?
  • Do you have a great imagination?
  • Are you a great problem solver?
  • Are you able to bring a high level of concentration to something you’re interested in?
  • Are you empathetic?
  • Are you easy going?
  • Do you have a strong desire to contribute?

Something is Off: Mild ADHD or Asperger Behavior

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you or yours have ADHD or Asperger tendencies. For instance, you don’t necessarily understand certain social niceties or you’d like an awfully good and logical explanation for why Thank You notes are necessary and expected. Maybe you’re too smart by half, but don’t see the point of homework when you already understand the subject matter.

What then?

If your ADHD or Asperger’s had a physical manifestation or resulted in serious behavioral difficulties, then the rest of the world might just understand there is something going on with you, that you have a “disability.” They (your school, your work, the world) might even cut you some slack or get you some resources. They might even recognize that it makes “them” a jerk to bully someone who is disabled.

What if your “tendencies” just aren’t that apparent? What if the people you interact with on a daily basis don’t understand that you are functioning (or attempting to function) with ADHD or Asperger’s Syndrome. Well then, the situation might just be different.

To tell you the truth, I’m not sure whether I’m arguing for or against labeling a person with ADHD or Asperger’s Syndrome, but it occurs to me that maybe it’s those kids or adults on the fringe who might have the hardest time of functioning.

So next time you judge a person, stop and consider where they might be coming from. It may not excuse their behavior, but it may help you understand not to take it personally.