Harnessing Hyperfocus and Avoiding The Hangover

How to recognise when it’s not healthy and what to do about it

Jae L

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Photo by Artem Kniaz on Unsplash

Mention hyperfocus among people with ADHD and you’ll generally get recognition. Some adults will proudly proclaim it as their superpower while parents will groan with frustration about their kid. As someone who has ADHD and is also autistic, it’s a part of my life.

In short, hyperfocus is the ability to focus intensely on something for an extended period of time. Anyone can experience hyperfocus, but those of us with ADHD are more likely to. We have lower levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine that powers motivation and eases the gear shift from one activity to another.

Hyperfocus explodes the myth that people with ADHD have short attention spans or are unable to focus on anything. Rather, we have a dysregulated attention system which means that our attention is inconsistent. The way we distribute our attention differs from neurotypical people.

While most people are motivated by the objective importance of a task, or the importance externally signed to it, this doesn’t work for a person with ADHD. It’s why things like reward charts are useless for motivating kids to do their chores or behave in class. Instead, motivation arises internally, based on our level of engagement, novelty or…

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Jae L

Queer, neurodivergent and in the business of defying expectations. Doing my best to answer the questions I keep asking myself. diverge999@gmail.com