One more ADHD Super Power: Hyper Attention

Today I’d like to add one more ADHD super power to the ever-growing list (see: this post!)

Hyper Attentive (Wo)Man
Considering the social connotations of ADHD, “heightened attention” may seem counter-intuitive. After all, people with ADHD are known for their bonkers energy and inability to concentrate on anything for an extended period of time. But this is not always the case, for two reasons:

1. Those of us with ADHD are likely paying attention to everything in the room.
2. We actually hyper-focus on certain activities that fulfill our threshold for stimulation.

My mom, Mary Jo Wilson PhD, loves to paraphrase the parent-teacher conference she had with my preschool teacher at Family School West. “I often see Julie aimlessly wandering the room, not attending her allocated learning station. At first I thought she wasn’t paying attention at all, but as I watched her, I realized that she was absorbing the techniques that the other students used to complete their stations before sitting down herself. She then applies what she has observed to complete her task.”

That's chubby little me in the lower left corner!
Strange how people don’t change much. While I don’t consider myself a cautious person, I am an observant one. I often find myself observing multiple interactions that occur simultaneously in whatever room / elevator / meeting I'm in. I attribute my ability to write complex scenes with multiple characters to this hyper and expanded focus.

Hone the Hyper Attentive (Wo)Man’s super power: Find activities that fully absorb your need for stimulation. For me, creative writing fully immerses my mind in a single project. As for extracurricular activities…I’m a big fan of playing sports and video games. Contrary to other people, I'm actually relaxed by video games because they attract my full attention. Current favorites? ModNation & Little Big Planet 2. Sack puppets unite!

The Hyper Attentive (Wo)Man’s kryptonite: Forced tunnel vision.

What's your ADHD Super Power? Vote in the poll on your right or email me at WriteToJulianna

Curious about hyperfocus? Here’s an interesting article I found in ADDitude Magazine: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/612.html


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  2. Your preschool teacher's comments remind me of the following passage from "Murders in the Rue Morgue" by Edgar Allan Poe:

    "Whist has long been known for its influence upon what is termed the calculating power; and men of the highest order of intellect have been known to take an apparently unaccountable delight in it, while eschewing chess as frivolous. Beyond doubt there is nothing of a similar nature so greatly tasking the faculty of analysis. The best chess-player in Christendom may be little more than the best player of chess; but proficiency in whist implies a capacity for success in all these more important undertakings where mind struggles with mind. When I say proficiency, I mean that perfection in the game which includes a comprehension of all the sources whence legitimate advantage may be derived. These are not only manifold, but multiform, and lie frequently among recesses of thought altogether inaccessible to the ordinary understanding. To observe attentively is to remember distinctly; and, so far, the concentrative chess-player will do very well at whist; while the rules of Hoyle (themselves based upon the mere mechanism of the game) are sufficiently and generally comprehensible. Thus to have a retentive memory, and proceed by "the book" are points commonly regarded as the sum total of good playing. But it is in matters beyond the limits of mere rule that the skill of the analyst is evinced. He makes, in silence, a host of observations and inferences. So, perhaps, do his companions; and the difference in the extent of the information obtained, lies not so much in the validity of the inference as in the quality of the observation. The necessary knowledge is that of what to observe. Our player confines himself not at all; nor, because the game is the object, does he reject deductions from things external to the game. He examines the countenance of his partners, comparing it carefully with that of each of his opponents. He considers the mode of assorting the cards in each hand; often counting trump by trump, and honor by honor, through the glances bestowed by their holders upon each. He notes every variation of face as the play progresses, gathering a fund of thought from the differences in the expression of certainty, of surprise, of triumph, or chagrin. From the manner of gathering up a trick he judges whether the person taking it, can make another in the suit. He recognizes what is played through feint, by the manner with which it is thrown upon the table. A casual or inadvertent word; the accidental dropping or turning of a card, with the accompanying anxiety or carelessness in regard to its concealment; the counting of the tricks, with the order of their arrangement; embarrassment, hesitation, eagerness, or trepidation--all afford, to his apparently intuitive perception, indications of the true state of affairs. The first two or three rounds having been played, he is in full possession of the contents of each hand, and thenceforward puts down his cards with as absolute a precision of purpose as if the rest of the party had turned outward the faces of their own."

  3. Incredible quote! Thanks for sharing Spector. Maybe it's time to take up Chess and/or Poker. :)


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