The Gift of ADHD

How to Transform Problems into Strengths

The 5 Gifts of ADHD in the Workplace

The real world does not have to be at all like school.

The five gifts of ADHD can offer many advantages in the workplace. The breakthrough insight every person with ADHD and parent of a child with ADHD needs to understand is that the real world does not have to be at all like school. In the school system, the expectation is that you should be good at everything. In the real world, you only have to be really good at something to be highly successful. The five gifts of ADHD include creativity, emotional sensitivity, exuberance, interpersonal empathy and being nature smart (The Gift of Adult ADD, 2008).

I remember the look of awe on one of my teen client’s face when he realized that he could make a living doing precisely the things that got him into trouble at school.  As a physical therapist, he could spend all day talking with other people and being physically active ---- and drum roll please…. make a living at it rather than getting in trouble for it. His gifts of exuberance and interpersonal empathy would now help transform other people’s lives.

One woman thought of school as a social event that was occasionally interrupted by a teacher. She graduated high school with little interest in continuing her education.  Somehow she learned of a major at San Francisco State University called Recreation, Parks and Tourism.  Imagine a curriculum that included these courses

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  • ·         Aquatic Sports
  • ·         Beginning Sailing
  • ·         Beginning Rock Climbing
  • ·         Introduction to Back Country Skiing
  • ·         Lake and Sea Kayaking
  • ·         Small Boat Sailing
  • ·         Women's Backpacking

Her gift of being nature smart, interpersonally empathic  and exuberant would be put to good use! Seeing these majors and jobs, I have to ask myself why does the education system seem to forget that not all students are on track to make a living as an accountant or lawyer?

Equally exciting is that the rapid changes in digital and global technology has created jobs that never existed even 5 years ago. Many of these jobs are suited for people who are more drawn to taking in information visually rather than through reading and writing. Examples include developing Apps, social media marketing jobs and website creation, design and promotion. One job description to emerge that seems particularly well suited for individuals with ADHD and even dyslexia is called digital storytelling.

According to Wikipedia, digital storytelling is

“…the process by which diverse peoples share their life story and creative imaginings with others. This newer form of storytelling emerged with the advent of accessible media production techniques, hardware and software, including but not limited to digital cameras, digital voice recorders…”

Adults who struggled with reading can find careers that cater directly to a generation that turns to Youtube to research a topic. Digital storytelling is also a job description as companies are catching on that they have to use marketing tools that easily capture the attention of a culture that seems to be en masse going the route of ADD.

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I will be giving the talk "The 5 Gifts of ADHD in The Workplace" at the Advance LA Innovate Conference. If you want to share your stories with me of the Gifts of ADHD in the workplace I would love to hear them. To register for the conference, please visit www.advancela.org/conference.

Lara Honos-Webb, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and author of multiple books.

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