Queen of the Distracted

Imagine life in a house with 6 kids - now imagine if 5 of those kids and their father have ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) - that is our house! Welcome to an inside view of my life and our home dominated by ADHD... THERE IS NEVER A DULL MOMENT!

Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and Girls!

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls!"

Those were our oldest daughter Rachel's first words, from the time she was a toddler she would belt them out proudly standing on the arm of the couch. At the time we had no idea what ADHD was or that it would play such a central roll in our lives.

Since then we have learned a lot, not the least of which is how many individuals and families suffer in silence. We have experienced first hand how misunderstood and misrepresented a disorder can be.

As a family we decided to take action - to risk embarrassment and labeling to get this important message out to the world. Come join our family, share in our lives, and see ADD/ADHD as we see it...
A gift with a heavy price tag.

WELCOME to life in the ADD/ADHD House!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Creativity and ADHD: Part I

Those who know me - especially my family - know that I do love to be right.  The other night when my sister sent me a link to an article about ADHD and creativity I have to tell you I felt justified, proven right.

The article was reporting on a study which found that people with ADHD are more "creative" than their non-ADHD counterparts.  Creativity has always been a hard one to define and has been the subject of a great deal of debate within the ADHD community.  Some say that creativity, itself, exists independent of ADHD and is, therefore, something that ADHD cannot lay claim to as a positive trait.

Some in the ADHD community don't want to claim to it for fear that pointing out the positives of ADHD diverts attention from the struggles.  That it gives those who would downplay or negate ADHD as a real disorder ammunition.

I have always said differently.  While it is true that ADHD does not corner the market on creativity there is something entirely different that happens to creativity when you add in a little ADHD. Something that holds a great deal of potential. I have six kids - five with ADHD.  I live the life, walk the walk, every minute of everyday and I need the positives to hold onto.  I need them for my children to hold onto and to help them find their way in this world.

What interested me most in the article; ADHD's Upside is Creativity, Says New Study, found in the The Daily Beast was the overall driving forces or characteristics that influence creativity and are so pronounced in ADHD.  The characteristics that came shining through in the study were divergent thinking, the effect of lack of inhibitions on creativity, as well as creative problem solving. 

I would consider our house my own center of research.

Drawing, acting, film, game design, experiments, concoctions (oh, the concoctions), ideas, philosophies, problem solving, music, composition, perspectives, stories, plays, cooking, animation, photography, obsessions;  I can not even list the creative endeavors that this family engages in daily.  Sometimes in the craziest places.  I have often said that we were creatively masochistic.

Just like no two children are alike; no two children with ADHD are even remotely alike.  I deal in extremes everyday.  I have some who stimuli will cause to lash out and some who beat a hasty retreat.  I have inattentive, happy in lala land and inattentive, freaked out OCD to compensate.  I have some with learning disabilities on top of their ADHD and some without them.  I have some that are more verbally and physically impulsive and those who are not.  I have some who are medicated easily and some that we are forever trying to find the right balance for.  I have some that are all of the above and some who are every varying degree in between.

I also have one non-ADHD child who just happens to be a creative genius herself. Because of her I feel a little qualified to speak on the difference between ADHD creativity and non-ADHD creativity.

Impulsiveness is a just a trait.  In and of itself it is neither bad nor good.  But, how it comes out in behavior can sure sculpt my day.  There is no doubt that it can be a burden; but, on an equal note I see the greatness it can inspire.

There is a beauty to impulsivity when it meets the right idea.  It is that lack of impulse control or lack of inhibition that allows the mind to grab on with both hands and turn a thought into a great work of art, a moving and emotional musical composition, a life changing piece of film.  It is in that moment, science takes new steps.  It takes the idea of caring and turns it into fast acting of compassion.  It turns a good athlete great, orchestrating athletics into art.

This trait is a force that can hardly be resisted by the ADHD mind. An immediate translation from thought to action.  I have seen it, watched it unfold.  

When my non-ADHDer was tiny, maybe 3 years old, I came up behind her sitting at the table with her pencil and paper in hand.  Her sisters were already skilled drawing fanatics.  In her tiny voice she whispered, "Oh magical drawing fairy, touch my pencil so I can draw like my sisters."  

My non-ADHD child draws, sculpts, and bakes (cake decorating is her latest passion). She is the eye of a photographer, has a beautiful voice, reads fanatically, and visualizes the movies she will one day direct.  All of that is a calculated and thought out process for her.  I have watched her hesitate where her siblings jump in.  It is work for her to create spontaneously.  In fact, about her only spontaneous act of creativity are cartoons depicting her frustrations with her ADHD siblings. 

It does not make her less creative or less talented by any means; but, there is an intrinsic difference between her creative experience and theirs.

She, like myself, is cautious and careful.  She is more reserved.  Where they have no inhibition - she is burdened by them.  We are the anchor in the house, we keep them from floating off into the atmosphere -- they are the hot air balloons, lifting us off the ground. 

She and I sit squarely in the box with a notebook and pen to plan.  They have no idea there is a box, much less where it is.  We are the concurrent thinkers and they are the definitely divergent thinkers.  We problem solve on known paths, it is so much more comfortable.  They are clearly on the path less traveled.

We try to understand and operate in each others worlds.  It is the balance that we strive to find daily between impulsiveness and calculated thought, between divergent and concurrent thinking, between traditional problem solving and new frontiers. 

In the end we are changed by each other -- largely for the better.  Isn't that what we really want as an ADHD community.  See us for not just our struggles but for our strengths.  Certainly, one does not negate the other.

Make sure and read ADHD and Creativity: Part II

** all the art on this post is the copyrighted work of Hannah Aro - our above mentioned non-ADHD child

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