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The Gift of ADHD

Lara Honos-Webb/Teresa Neumann Reporting : Oct 14, 2005

Dr. Lara Honos-Webb has written a book with a much needed perspective on ADHD, called The Gift of ADHD. In her book, she takes the hallmarks of ADHD -- impulsivity, distractibility and "goofing-off" -- and makes a case for the fact that these traits are actually uniquely geared toward bright, innovative individuals.

A case in point is Thomas Alva Edison, who among a myriad of other inventions, invented the light bulb. Edison was known to be easily distracted and to work on many different projects at one time, alternating between ones he grew bored with and ones he would feel more inspiration for. According to Honos-Webb, "another word for distractibility is "flexibility," and it can be put to use in groundbreaking innovation and productivity."

Other positives of ADHD include:

ADHD children "are excellent at getting the big picture, in and out of the classroom."

Impulsiveness is a trait that helps someone "think daringly original thoughts...a necessary ingredient for forging new ground in any area of study or thought."

Distractibility is an essential aspect of creativity, "which often manifests in the mixing together of ideas from different domains that seem separate or irrelevant to each other."

Being what some might label slow, uncomprehending or confused, is actually a sign of someone who so marvels at the "big picture" that they are unable to accept over simplified explanations. As a matter of fact, warns the doctor, "If we think we have the answers, we are not open to a deeper understanding or exploring other ways of seeing the world."

Honos-Webb makes the point that when it comes to education, it's easy to teach facts but impossible to teach creativity; something ADHD children have an abundance of. Says the doctor, "It is much easier to train someone who is creative to be disciplined than it is to teach someone who is focused and disciplined to be creative."

As for "goofing-off" -- another signature ADHD label -- Honos-Webb believes that it is an important activity for any child, but particularly a creative child. Goofing-off is not giving up, she says. Rather, it is "play, experimentation, trying out new ideas, and adjusting them to see what fits, what works, and what is more fun."