Why ADHD Makes My Son Awesome, Really!
I would be lying if I said I never felt sorry for my son Lucas-OK, and for myself-because he has ADHD. These brief moments of pity usually come on the heels of a particularly trying morning, before his meds kick in. If you’re an ADHD parent, you are familiar with these mornings. But I always […]
I would be lying if I said I never felt sorry for my son Lucas-OK, and for myself-because he has ADHD. These brief moments of pity usually come on the heels of a particularly trying morning, before his meds kick in. If you’re an ADHD parent, you are familiar with these mornings.
But I always recover from my pity party pretty quickly, because the truth is, if Lucas didn’t have ADHD, he wouldn’t be Lucas. ADHD is as much a part of him as his chocolate brown eyes and his obsession with fighter jets.
Many of the coolest things about him are either a part of his ADHD or a direct result of it. Here are seven of my favorites:
1) Hyperfocus: If Lucas loves something, good luck pulling his attention away from it. Before we understood ADHD, we used to use the many examples of Lucas’s descent into hyperfocus as a reason to question his diagnosis. After all, what six-year-old builds a three-foot-high roller coaster out of K’nex in just two days? Six-year-olds with hyperfocus, that’s who. (We were so proud of that darn thing that we left it standing in the corner of our living room for two years.)
2) Out-of-the-box thinking: Lucas sometimes drive us nuts with his refusal to adhere to “The Rules,” but he often does this in favor of seeking out other, more innovative-or occasionally, more obvious-solutions. When working on his science project this year, which tests airplane wing lift, Lucas shaped a foam airplane wing based on a template he found online. The wing, when exposed to high winds, did not “lift” as it should have. My husband tried every adjustment he could think of with the testing equipment, but the wing simply would not lift. Lucas, on a whim, decided to flip the wing over-and it lifted! We learned, after further research, that the website had displayed the template upside-down. Every parent of a kid with ADHD probably has a similar story about how her kid had a “crazy” idea that turned out to be the idea that solved the problem or saved the day.
3) Creativity: Any parent of a kid with ADHD recognizes the irony in the name of the disorder: “attention deficit.” ADHD isn’t a deficit, or lack of attention, but rather an overabundance of it, an inability to filter out all the tiny, seemingly insignificant details. There’s no denying the challenges of noticing everything and nothing at the same time. However, with the proper channeling and the right balance of meds, Lucas’s ability to notice every little detail comes in very handy, especially when it comes to artistic expression. He is an excellent artist, musician, and budding mechanical engineer, as are many children who have ADHD. I think a large part of the reason for this is that ADHDers perceive minutiae that other, less rapid-fire brains often do not.
4) Curiosity: The ability to perceive detail leads to a heightened level of curiosity. Lucas has Googled and YouTubed everything from air ducts to black holes. No topic is too mundane for his ADHD radar.
5) Sensitivity: ADHD comes with its fair share of difficulties, as every ADHD parent knows. I believe that Lucas’s experience with ADHD, especially the more challenging aspects, has opened his heart and mind to the struggles of others. His teachers regularly comment on how caring and empathetic he is. It has been unbearable to watch him struggle, to endure the years of parent-teacher conferences and behavioral interventions that, no matter how carefully implemented, could not possibly have left him unscarred. Yet I believe those struggles have given Lucas the ability to put himself in others’ shoes and to empathize with their suffering.
6) Spontaneity: We are all familiar with spontaneity’s evil twin, impulsivity, and how irritating, destructive, and downright dangerous it can be. (Many of my fellow ADHD parents know the horror of yanking their kid by the back of his shirt collar just in time to avoid the car that was about to run him over in the grocery store parking lot.) But the flip side of impulsivity is spontaneity. Lucas is always suggesting fun things to do on a whim: a game of Monopoly, a walk around the neighborhood, an impromptu campfire in the back yard, or…cupcakes, for no reason at all. Not all the ideas that pop unbidden into his head are bad ones!
7) Tenacity: Otherwise known as stubbornness. Lucas has driven me half-mad with arguments about math homework in which he insists I cannot help him because I “don’t understand the new math” (I do, I swear!). However, he has also impressed me many more times with his fortitude in following through on a task that has him red-faced and furious because he can’t get it to work. One time I almost returned a remote control toy tank to the store because it was not firing its little pretend missiles correctly, but Lucas was determined not to lose that toy. He insisted that I allow him to attempt to fix it, and I’ll be damned if that kid didn’t fix the malfunctioning toy.
These are just a few of the things I love about Lucas’s ADHD. It is so easy for parents to lose ourselves in the everyday battlefield of ADHD, to feel like our child might have missed out on a “normal” life as a result of having this disorder. But if we keep reminding ourselves of the many positives that accompany ADHD, we might come to the conclusion that “normal” really is just a setting on the washing machine.