Hyperactive Adults - Emphasise the Positive

Hyperactivity is always thought of in terms of children. However most hyperactive children grow up into hyperactive adults - yet no one gives a thought to them. In the current issue of the Hyperactive Children's Support Group's Journal, Maria Pike describes what it is like to be a hyperactive adult. Below are some extracts from her article.

In the same Journal is an extract from a lecture by Professor Loretta Giorcelli, given in 1999, in which she lists the many positive characteristics of ADHD which often get ignored in the struggle to cope with the disruptive ones. We follow Maria Pike with edited extracts from Professor Giorcelli's lecture.

For more information on the HACSG check out www.hacsg.org.uk 01243 551313

What is it like to be a hyperactive adult? by Maria Pike

Well, I can tell you now, it is anything but a picnic.

The hyper person has a head full of whys. Their brains never switch off. They have a constant roller coaster of thoughts running through their minds. What's this for? Why do that? Where do they go? When will this do that? Or why this? Why that? There's no such thing as a simple yes or no where a hyper person is concerned, because it doesn't end there.

More often than not a hyper person is three sentences ahead of him/herself. Many talk fast and this is purely because they are trying to get out a sentence in order to keep up with themselves. With all this going on in their minds, they always appear to be in a hurry, demanding, disruptive, loud. For there are two things that a hyperactive person cannot do: sit down and shut up. Yet that is what they are always being told to do, especially as children.

But they can't. They need to know - their heads are non stop asking 'why'.

Unless you yourself are hyperactive you will have no idea how this feels for us who suffer with it. And suffer we do. Our lives are governed by the fact that we have to know 'why' with everything we encounter.

Diet sometimes helps, medication can also help. But the most effective thing that anyone can give us is patience and understanding. We don't expect you to know how it feels for us. We know it is not easy for you to cope with people like us, but please, just try to meet us half way! Scolding us will do no good. We don't respond well to negative treatment and we will rebel even more if you try to force us to fit in with your idea of how we should behave.

Almost every genius there has ever been was hyperactive. We have an enormous capacity for learning and energy but if you channel our energy in a negative way, you may as well start saving now for the transport to visit us in that jail in which we will inevitably end up. Our being different is not a fault and not bad. If you can understand us and help us we can become extremely intelligent and worthwhile citizens.

Positive Characteristics of ADHD - Professor Giorcelli

When the natural intuition of a hyperactive person is combined with their lack of inhibition they may very accurately and insightfully gauge what is happening with another person, but may not have the inhibition to refrain from saying it - which gets them into trouble.

Unending curiosity.
A four-year-old said to his Dad, ‘'Dad, tell me again why I can't be a traffic light when I grow up?'......
To many of the questions there really are no answers.

Hyperactive people have an amazing ability to bounce back. No matter how often they are ‘'knocked back' they bounce back and bear no grudges.

Excessive sensitivity is a very appealing trait although it can be very wearing. For instance, if a child hears that its grandmother is not well the questions are unending: ‘'What's wrong? Does she have to go to the doctor? Why isn't she going to the doctor? Will she have to go to hospital?' etc etc

Another very appealing trait. One mother told me that her ADHD child was the only one who watched and cried with her throughout the funeral of Princess Diana. He said, ‘'Poor Harry. Poor William. They've lost their mum. It's like me losing you!' My other children might have felt it, but would never have said it.

Yet another appealing characteristic - but without inhibition, spontaneity may cause them to do or say things that are hurtful to other people.

They often have very creative, although to always very practical, approaches to problem solving and to dealing with the world. Their creativity often leads them into the arts, music and drama.

ADHD people have hugely active imaginations - although this may work against them as they have so many ideas that they are unable to organise or implement them.

Resourcefulness and risk taking:
Both essential for learning and development, but dangerous if not tempered with inhibition or discretion.

Lateral thinking:
ADHD people rarely approach problem solving using conventional strategies. They come up with alternative strategies which may seem illogical - or may solve the problem but cause others in the process. We confuse them when we try to apply conventional strategies - but can learn a lot if we can follow their thought patterns.

Energy:ADHD people have unending energy which even disrupts their sleep patterns. If put to constructive use this is a wonderful gift, but can be very exhausting for the non-ADHD people who live with them.

First published in 2005


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