It’s time we change the way we look at ADHD!

Photo by Leland Francisco


Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows that I’m not a fan of labels. Ironic, right? As an “ADHD” specialist, it’s a constant struggle for me in finding the right balance in using the “label” ADHD (which is of course necessary for treatment) and neurological difference and diversity, what I refer to as “brain type.”

While I absolutely believe that ADHD is real, I struggle with the term Attention Deficit Disorder, for a number of reasons.

First, I don’t believe that it’s a deficit of attention. What I do believe is that it’s a deficit of regulation of attention. The issue isn’t about paying attention, its about what you pay attention to; its about the inability to regulate where your attention goes.

And the second issue that I have is with the word “disorder”.  “Great news, honey! I’ve been diagnosed with a disorder!” said no one ever! The interesting thing about this brain type is that there are so many instances where having this brain is hardly a disorder! As a matter of fact, quite the contrary. It can be quite resourceful! There are many strengths and gifts associated with ADHD.

In his book ADD: A Different Perception, psychotherapist Thom Hartmann, suggests that ADHD is not a disorder. Early humans were hunters and gatherers. Thom Hartmann theorizes that just as our talents and strengths vary today, some humans were better suited for hunting and gathering than others. Because they were hyper-aware of every stimulus (easily distracted), they were able to constantly monitor their environment. This was necessary for survival!

In his hunter-farmer theory, he also suggests that by immediately reacting to a situation (impulsivity), this allowed the hunter to instantly identify and seize opportunities. Taking time thinking and planning would more likely have left the hunter without food.

In this chart from his book, you can see that what we now define as a “disorder” was actually beneficial.

Yes, I know. It’s true that today we’re no longer “hunting” for our survival. But there certainly are instances where these traits can be viewed as strengths and talents. Isn’t it in the impulsive and distracted mind that ideas, change and creativity are born?

Yes, there is a time and place for this, no doubt. I agree that a lack of regulation of attention definitely has it’s difficulties. But if we can learn to regulate our attention, then perhaps the only thing left is having the gift of this magnificent, and often brilliant brain type!

So how do you learn to regulate your attention? Start with a practice of Mindfulness!

I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch this YouTube video on Neurodiversity. It just might change the way you look at ADHD!

It’s time we see the value in this as well as all other brain types!