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Do we really have ADHD Superpowers?

A hand with a red metal glove, with a cream button in the palm that suggests they have a superpower

I’ve read in certain articles, blogs and media over the years that people with ADHD have superpowers. I have to be honest, I never thought of myself having a superpower.

Granted when my son was diagnosed, he was exceptional at maths so it could be said that it was his superpower but what he as great at in one area, usually meant that he struggled in another. Just like many of us out there, no matter what way our brain is wired.

But these so-called superpowers are made to sound like something more than that.

I know there are individuals who believe that some of things they do are unique to them because of their ADHD. I also know that in the groups I am in, when someone posts something asking about superpowers there is as many saying they don't have any as there is naming them.

I suppose it's all down to perspective.

Personally I feel a lot of these things aren't really superpowers and are more about the things that interest and challenge us at the same time, that we just so happen to enjoy and get a dopamine hit from. A bit like my son and maths or my interest in helping people and problem solving. I feel the term comes from it being something we are good at and we have learned to use these skills to compensate for the areas where we may be lacking. I have identified a career path that draws on this as a strength. There are others out there who have done the same be it by accident or on purpose.

I know there are many out there whose ADHD means that there is a lack of impulsive control. This may benefit them in the business world. Some with ADHD are entrepreneurs or ‘solopreneurs‘, as I have heard it called lately in an ADHD group. They aren’t afraid to take risks and act on impulse. Richard Branson is one who springs to mind. The issue with this may be that the risks don't always work, resulting in loss of money and time among other things. The other downside is that we sometimes tire easily of something and struggle to keep going with it, as it ends up boring us. We have been known to skip from one interest to another.

Some of us are great at thinking outside the box and are good at problem solving. The downside to this could be that we have very noisy brains and sometimes when we need to think of a solution, and there may be too much going on inside our heads to pick one. Making choices also doesn’t come easily for some of us.

There are so many of us that are full of empathy and compassion, but in our lives this can go against us as we take on other peoples problems and spend our lives helping others, sometimes at a detriment to ourselves both physically and mentally. We can also be vulnerable in this area too, sometimes unable to see the other persons intentions and end up in toxic situations.

We can hyper focus for hours, yet spend hours procrastinating about the many other things that we think we should be doing. Why? Because like everyone once else we prefer to spend time on the things that interest us as opposed to boring us. Unfortunately, unlike everyone else, our executive function doesn't function in a way that makes it easy for us to do those boring, uninteresting tasks.

An example for me is hyper-focusing when writing a blog. I'm doing it right now and will keep going until it is done. Then I'll go over it again at another time to make sure I'm happy with it before it's published. That could mean another hour of hyperfocus.

But even that has it's downsides. I can have an amazing idea for a blog and start writing it in my head, but then something distracts me and it’s gone. My working memory is awful (And has gotten worse now I’m perimenopausal). I have to get the ideas out of my head and in my line of sight or it doesn't happen (which can be true for so many with ADHD). I could also be doing some housework.

I absolutely love my client work but struggle to socialise and very rarely leave my home unless it’s for work.

We can be fabulous friends but we are extremely forgetful and often forget that these friendships require an effort on both sides. Or we can be too much, always wanting to speak to someone and it can be exhausting for the individual on the other end.

When we do socialise be it with work colleagues, school friends, neighbours or whoever, we can be the life and soul of the party in the right company. The other side of this could be Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria, where we torture ourselves and imagine we have made fools of ourselves and everybody has rejected us. It’s a very real experience and not a pleasant one that's for sure.

I personally feel that calling the things we excel in superpowers, detracts from the struggles we experience in every day life. Struggles in relationships, at home, work, school. The list is wide and varied, and goes on and on, presenting in many different ways for many different people.

For those of us who have managed to find ways of adapting, working around these issues, it may not be so apparent, but that is something that comes with time and life experience. We do find workarounds for some things.

And I get it, as parents we love to think our kids have superpowers, just like my son's ability with maths. I bragged about it as a proud parent. I didn't brag about the serious issues we had getting him to school every morning and the fact that he was always 2 hours late for the first 2 years of secondary school.

Maybe the one thing that we do have (and I’m hesitant in calling it a superpower) is resilience.

We get up everyday and keep trying to tackle the things that neurotypical people appear to have no issues with. it’s a well known fact that children and young people put in an incredible amount of effort to complete school in the manner that is expected of them. Effort that takes so much more stamina and brainpower than it does for those with a neurotypical brain. Even as adults.

Part of me thinks that the suggestion of superpowers is almost like toxic positivity. Like we are supposed to grab onto this label as some kind of compensation for everything else.

ADHD has it strengths and for that I am grateful. It’s taken me a long time to realise that ADHD was part of my life, and then to get to know myself well enough to know how it affects me. I’m sure there may be somethings I haven’t realised yet.

One thing’s for sure, I definitely don't have a superpower. I feel the closest thing to a superpower is my ability as a touch typist. But that's down to who I mix with and the fact that there's no one to compare me with lol How fast I go really depends on my ability to concentrate and hope that my brain doesn’t go faster than my fingers, or I pray that my fingers are as fast as my thoughts. If you sat behind me for long enough and observed, there's plenty of mistakes that I can quickly correct!!


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