Motivational and inspirational writer, Bryan Hutchinson is the author of several books about life with ADHD including the highly acclaimed, best selling "One Boy′s Struggle: A Memoir" and the author of the hilarious eBook that went viral "10 Things I Hate about ADHD"

Just another Call to Arms! Adult ADHD

Have you noticed that adult ADHD is making more news lately? As a matter of fact I just read that approximately 65% of children with ADHD will grow into adults with ADHD, or rather ADD.  I personally suspect that the percentage is much higher. It’s impossible to know how many adults are wondering around undiagnosed, but it’s estimated to be in the millions. I was diagnosed when I was 37 and in recent years I have met a remarkable number of adults diagnosed at a later age, some cases much later. This of course lends to the belief that ADHD isn’t real. How can so many people have it? I don’t know, but we do.

Adult ADHD is about as much a myth as Childhood ADHD. There is no myth about ADHD except for those who blow it off because they do not understand it.  Most people who don’t know much about me never even realize I have it. In fact, when I explain that I have ADHD I have been told more often than not that I control it very well.

As with  me, many, perhaps even most adults do not show the telling signs of physical hyperactivity which is typically associated with ADHD. Another aspect that a lot of folks do not realize, or fully consider, is that children who grow up with ADHD can actually become quite resourceful and learn many ways to counter, or hide their symptoms and make their way. Of course, making their way, does not always translate into compliance with standard norms in society or the academic world.

Adult ADHD tends to carry the unfortunate connotation of addiction, abuse, breaking the law and home-wrecking and therein is an expectation for only obvious disastrous behavior. When that disastrous behavior is not apparent then an individual cannot possibly have adult ADHD. This is a common misunderstanding. Adult ADHD is usually most obvious to those in direct daily contact with the person who has it and if this person is in a job which suits their talents and traits, it will be even less likely to be noticed. Actually, some jobs benefit from adult ADHD, especially those jobs where pressure is constant and is made up of several different types of short, but constant tasks. In many ways adults with ADHD are like lawyers who can switch from task to task incredibly fast and ‘see’ ways to solve problems that others would need longer to figure out. After all, a life of problem solving does sometimes have its payoff. The more serious problems for the person with ADHD is usually an internal battle with struggles which are not always obvious to the casual observer, but are more noticeable to family members, especially to a relationship partner.

So you see, many adults with ADHD have issues and problems that are not openly apparent to observers, or if they are, they are typically written off as idiosyncrasies or eccentricities. We have learned so many survival skills over the years that we use them with great care in all things, often without consciously considering them or, in some cases, with no awareness for the coping skills that we regularly utilize. We also tend to gain, over years of strife and trying to fit in, a keen awareness of what will give us difficulty and create ways to avoid and/or modify those things. Sometimes we actually discover ways to improve and do things in better, more efficient ways for everyone. Some of us like to call that type of improving and modifying things part of our ‘gifts’. Taking these things into account it is not hard to understand why adult ADHD goes undiagnosed or why many think we grow out of childhood ADHD.

Something about adult ADHD I think is incredibly damaging is that many with adult ADHD are underestimated and worse still, underestimated by themselves.

Any one of us can give a list a mile long to verify why we think less of ourselves. I still have my old list folded up somewhere as a reminder of how I used to judge myself so harshly. I sincerly believe too many adults with ADHD refuse (as I once did) to give themselves any credit for the things they are doing well, have done well and the disasters they have overcome. We also tend to believe that the ways we do things that we have modified are somehow wicked and wrong, worse still: cheating! (Did Captain Kirk really cheat to overcome the Kobayashi Maru test? Now, there’s a debate!)  Then we also have the all too common belief that sooner or later the other shoe will drop. Such invisible barriers will hold some back forever and it’s such a shame.

The key to my success with adult ADHD is I have learned to take advantage of what I do have and not dwell too long on my short-comings. I have also learned to put my past where it belongs, in the past (or in my books or on my blog). The fact is, if I hadn’t accepted my ways of thinking, ways of doing things and received competent treatment I would never have gotten out of the vicious cycle of self-sabotage, much less make it day to day without anyone out of the know suspecting adult ADHD at all!

I believe self-sabotage is the greatest hindrance to those of us with adult ADHD. One very good example of self-sabotage is the belief we have to do everything by ourselves or the ‘go it alone’ mentality. The world wasn’t made for any one person to do everything themselves, so why do so many of us believe we have to do everything alone and/or that we are responsible for everything and anything that goes on directly around us?

The challenges of adult ADHD are very real, they are not myth! However, they can be professionally treated, overcome and even, yes, dare I say, in many cases utilized! I’ll bet that most who think that they can’t utilize any of their innate ADDer traits actually do without even realizing it. Adults with ADHD, like you and me, we are hyper aware of our short-comings, faults and other tendencies, we don’t need anyone to point them out, so I will not do so in this post, but with that, let me ask you a question:

How about listing a few ways that you utilize ADHD to your advantage?