One of the amazing traits of my son that can be both a blessing or a real pain in the derriere is his ability to hyper focus on something. Having ADHD makes it difficult for him to focus on one thing at a time. Many people get confused about this and it can be even more confusing with my son. It often appears that he isn’t paying any attention to you, that he can’t focus, but in reality, he’s actually taking in everything around him which makes it hard for him to retain what one of those things is saying to him. For instance, while he’s in class and the teacher gives a direction, most kids can turn their attention to the teacher and concentrate on what he/she is saying. My son will notice the teacher asking for attention and begin to focus on him/her, but then he’ll hear the boy next to him tapping his foot, notice a bird fly by the window, those kids over there are talking and shouldn’t be, “wish that he’d would stop tapping his foot”, “there’s Adam... wonder if he has his legos today, I want to show him how to build a submarine”, “Did she cut her hair?”, “Does he really have to keep tapping his foot?”, “Great... now I missed what the directions were! I couldn’t concentrate because he kept tapping his foot!”
You can see how this can be difficult to live with.
On the other hand, his medicine for the ADHD helps him control his body and mind better. Without medicine, he can’t sit still for very long, fidgets, and rocks which gives him trouble when working on projects. When he takes his daily medication, he can accomplish more. His focusing becomes Hyper Focus! Seriously, someone should turn that into a super hero trait! The medicine seems to allow his aspergian traits to kick in. Actually, they were always there, just hidden by his impulsivity. He can sit down for hours and hours with his legos, for example, or go on and on and on about cars or weapons. He just goes into his world and would be thrilled to stay there for a long while. Unfortunately, his family breaks in from time to time. If we have to ask him a question or let him know that we’ll be going somewhere soon, it usually takes many reminders. He’ll hear the requests, but they don’t sink in or he can’t tear himself away. If he isn't ready to pull himself away, he can become frustrated and weepy.
It may not always be easy to drag him away from his targeted items and it can cause great frustration for him and us, but his Hyper Focus super power isn’t all bad. First of all, he creates wonderful inventions with his LEGO’s. He’s using his mind to engineer something new every single time. While he’s doing that, he’ll put his favorite television show on and watch that at the same time. He’s focusing on two things at once and absorbing every bit of it with success. I wish I could harness that ability for myself. Do you know how much I could get done?! It would be amazing.
Well, I decided to do a little hyper focusing myself, just on a shorter time frame. I enjoy photography, but I just rarely take the time to actually enjoy it anymore. I decided to grab the camera and step out to my garden. I focused on my favorite flowers, hydrangeas. I just wanted to get lost in a project of my own for a few minutes. Forget about all the other things on my mind and just take pictures. I don’t usually care to photograph flowers or work with macro photography, but I wanted to capture the color of my hydrangeas before they were gone for the season. I dove into f-stops and shutter speeds, white balance and ISO. I am not a real photographer and I would barely even consider myself an amateur, but I enjoy it. I loved immersing myself into that world, even it was just for about 15 minutes. It felt good to shut every thing out. It doesn’t surprise me that my son wants to go into his world. He has a lot stress and frustrations and his world gives him an outlet. So while I was out there, camera in hand, focusing on petals in the view finder, I not only captured the picture of that pretty flower, I saw how much my son needs his escapes. Through the viewfinder, I had a small glimpse of his world for a moment and that realization was like a flash going off. I got it! I finally understand! Who would want to leave that world that is so easy and stress free. No social cues to figure out, no misunderstandings, just you and your hobby. Understanding is half the battle and getting to that point is worthy of celebration. I'll work on the other half of that puzzle, but for now I'll celebrate by smiling.