Hyper focus is a debatable characteristic of ADD/ADHD… if you ask the experts. If you ask me (and my kids) you will get no debate; it exists and it will jack you up if not deliberately managed.
The first step to controlling the characteristic is to identify it. I didn’t really recognize it in my own personality until I started noticing it in my youngest son. His impulsive nature leads him to leap from an interest in a certain subject, fandom, toy line etc., to a total all-encompassing infatuation in no time flat.
In the past 3 years or so, LT has cycled through a passionate and total absorption in The Wiggles, Octonauts, Max & Ruby, Superman, Trains, Ninja Turtles, Hot Wheels, Power Rangers, Baseball Cards, Captain America, Iron Man and Pokèmon… And with each newfound interest he becomes overwhelmed with the “desire to acquire” (as I call it). He becomes completely captured by the intense fascination and has an unbelievably difficult time transitioning to the things that need to be done. Like schoolwork. And chores. And eating.
It’s my job to guide my ADHD children on how to manage the different aspects of their lives, and I must be especially careful to address their focus issues. It’s heart-breaking to have to tell them that they are different, and the only balm I have is to give is a positive spin gleaned for decades of self-examination.
Hyper focus has some useful applications in real life. Recognizing the trait can be a wonderful discovery; it speaks to an ability that we may not have known was even possible! It can allow people that struggle to regulate attention span to balance interests and necessities by giving a brief but intense capacity to accomplish tasks. If we give ourselves permission to immerse ourselves in the joy of our latest obsession after we accomplish our set tasks and chores we are training ourselves to employ a more “normal” time-management style.
So, I manage LT’s time for him. As he’s just six, I think it’s okay but I believe it’s crucial that I explain everything we do. I want him to eventually manage himself, so I keep my instruction brief, repetitive and use short phrases like:
*Lets spend five focused minutes on cleaning so we can spend ten fun minutes on Legos!
*If we focus on this homework, we can knock it out and have time for two “Phineas and Ferb”s!
I used to worry that I was making daily tasks too much of a negative but then I decided that they are called chores for a reason. So, we treat them as such by getting them out of the way and moving on to our most recent, and probably fleeting interest.
Just a soon as I’m done with this blogpost… Does anyone want to play Pokèmon?
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