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The ADHD Nervous System: Redefining ADHD with a Focus on Lived Experience

🌱 Harnessing Your Neurodiversity Gifts 🌱

How a new wave of clinicians are challenging established beliefs to better characterize ADHD - and bring much needed clarity to individuals.

Understanding Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can be bewildering and frustrating - especially for those professionals, executives and creatives who live with it every day.

It’s particularly unhelpful that traditional diagnostic criteria can leave individuals uncertain about whether they truly have the condition. After all, even professional clinicians struggle with the sheer number of symptoms they need to check against; the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists a total of 18 ADHD criteria, while other symptom lists mention up to 100 traits!

Identifying and understanding the traits of ADHD is a crucial part of developing strategies to live and work with it - and even harness your ADHD to bloom new possibilities. And the need to better define ADHD is a pressing one.

Thankfully, leading clinicians such as Dr. William Dodson have been on a mission to find a simpler and clearer way to understand ADHD. Their aim is to identify those core features that distinguish ADHD individuals from neurotypical individuals in order to provide better guidance on managing it. After a decade of research, Dr. Dodson's work has revealed a critical discovery: the ADHD nervous system.

A better way to understand ADHD

Most people with ADHD and their families, would prefer that we abandon the term "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder" because it contradicts their everyday experiences.

Despite what the name suggests, ADHD is not a damaged or faulty nervous system. Instead, it's a unique system that excels according to its own rules. Individuals with ADHD often exhibit higher-than-average IQs, and they apply those high IQs in distinct ways. And by the time they reach high school, individuals with ADHD can tackle problems that stump their peers and come up with innovative solutions that others simply cannot visualize.

Attention without the Deficit

Contrary to popular belief, most adults with ADHD are not overtly hyperactive, their hyperactivity is internal. Rather than demonstrating a shortage of attention, people with ADHD pay too much attention to everything, often juggling multiple thoughts at once.

The key trait of ADHD is not a deficit in attention, but having inconsistent attention. Individuals with ADHD frequently experience "in the zone" moments where they have no impairments and where executive function deficits vanish.

People with ADHD enter "the zone" when they are interested in what they are doing, which demonstrates that their nervous system is interest-based. They can also enter the zone when challenged, when in a competitive setting, or when presented with a novel task.

However, these moments come and go, making ADHD puzzling and frustrating for both the individual and those around them. Procrastination is also a common struggle for individuals with ADHD. They want to complete their work, but they can't begin until the task becomes interesting, challenging, or urgent.

In contrast, neurotypical individuals, who make up 90% of the population, are motivated by three key factors which held them prioritize, start and complete tasks:

✔️ The concept of importance

✔️ The concept of secondary importance

✔️ The promise of rewards or consequences

The ADHD Nervous System

Dr. Dodson's research challenges the traditional view of ADHD as a defective or deficit-based nervous system.

Instead, he sees it as a system that operates well according to its own unique rules, which don't align with the strategies taught in a neurotypical world. This is why individuals with ADHD often struggle in standard educational systems and conventional jobs. They also face difficulties staying organized and making decisions, because everything seems equally important or unimportant at the same time.

Dr. Dodson emphasizes that people with ADHD are not "damaged goods." Instead, we should think of individuals with ADHD as having been given a neurotypical owner's manual at birth, which simply doesn't work for them.

The goal should not be to turn ADHD individuals into neurotypical individuals, but to level the playing field, for example by using medication to address their attention span and impulse control. Dr. Dodson recommends a combination of stimulants and alpha agonist medications for optimal results.

Medication, however, is only one part of managing ADHD. The second crucial aspect is creating an individualized ADHD owner's manual, based on current successes, to help people recognize how to get "in the zone." This approach focuses on strengths, rather than shortcomings, and provides lifelong support.

Dr. William Dodson's groundbreaking insights offer hope for a more effective approach to managing ADHD. His work encourages professionals to embrace these new perspectives and help individuals with ADHD thrive in a world that celebrates the unique ADHD nervous system.

Learn More

Like Dr. Dodson, I passionately believe that individuals with ADHD do not need to change to fit the world around them. In contrast, professionals and executives with ADHD have the ability to use their unique gifts to find solutions others can’t, drive business innovation, and leave a lasting impact in their field.

If you're a CEO, coach, entrepreneur, high performer or leading creative who is ready to blaze a new trail, why not explore the benefits of The Bloom Method™?

Join neurodivergent entrepreneurs and executives from around the world who have redefined their goals, harnessed powerful strategies, and grasped the next step in their journey with both hands. Send me a message or schedule a complimentary consult to learn more. 🪷 Kate


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