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ADHD isn't a deficit of attention (and doesn't neccessarily mean you're hyperactive)

ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is kind of a poorly named condition.

People with ADHD don’t have a deficit of attention. They have trouble regulating it. It’s a form of executive dysfunction.


Folks who have it will tell you that often they often tend to hyperfocus on just one thing that they find really exciting or interesting, to the detriment of other important things.

When you go into hyperfocus, you’ll often neglect all sorts of important things like…

  • Eating
  • Drinking water
  • Using the bathroom
  • Meetings
  • Emails
  • Phone calls
  • Other (sometimes more important) tasks

At its best, hyperfocus is a bit of a flow state, and a literal superpower that you can use to your advantage. We’ll talk about that more in another article.

What I wanted to talk about today is how the name for ADHD itself creates a bunch of misnomers about people who have it.

We’re perceived as flighty and aloof and always bouncing off the walls. And for some folks with ADHD, at certain times, they can be like that!

But it can also mean being deeply, deeply focused, with a level of productivity that neurotypical folks can only dream of!

Not everyone with ADHD has hyperactivity

Back in the day, ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD were two different diagnosis.

Today, it’s all called ADHD, with three possible subtypes:

  • Inattentive
  • Hyperactive/Impulsive
  • Combined

As you can probably guess, some folks have focus regulation challenges (again poorly named Inattentive), some folks just have hyperactivity (far less common), and some folks have both.

The Inattentive subtype by itself is more common in women, who are often under-diagnosed because they don’t have the obvious hyperactivity.

Fuck stereotypes

As you may have gathered already, the language around ADHD is steeped in ableism and stereotypes.

Fuck that shit. You’re a goddamn unicorn superhero!