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  • Episode 2

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

In today’s episode, I talk about how ADHD doesn’t describe what ADHD actually is.


Hello, hello, hello, this is the ADHD for the Win podcast. I’m Chris Ferdinandi. Thanks so much for joining me today. I’m talking about how ADHD is actually kind of a bad name for what we have. Let’s dig in. So ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and it’s kind of a poorly named condition because people with ADHD don’t have a deficit of attention.

We have trouble regulating it. It’s a form of executive dysfunction. In fact, sometimes we actually have too much attention, not, not enough. Uh, so you may or may not have heard of the phrase hyper focus before. Folks who have it will tell you, and by it I mean ADHD, uh, will tell you that they often tend to hyper focus on just one thing that they find really exciting or interesting.

Often to the detriment of other very 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, and 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.

And we’ll talk about that more in another episode. Um, but you know, for me, it’s one of the reasons why I kind of got hooked on coding and web development, because when I hyper focus or when I start to code, it often puts me into a state of hyper focus, and it becomes almost Zen like I can tune everything else out, I can go really deep, and I can solve some really big, complex problems, um, and sometimes be way more productive than, you know, My web developer peers.

I can remember once at a job I got done in about a month, maybe like four or five months worth of work. Um, and it felt absolutely amazing. Um, you know, there’s often kind of a tail end of that around burnout. But again, that’s another episode. What I want to talk about today, though, is how The name for ADHD itself, uh, creates a bunch of misnomers that, uh, you know, 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, It really can be like that, um, evidenced by the fact that I just went on a tangent in this very episode, but it can also mean being deeply, deeply focused with a level of productivity that neurotypical folks can only dream of.

Um, but not everyone with ADHD has hyperactivity. Back in the day, ADD or attention deficit disorder and ADD, ADHD, uh, sorry. So ADD and ADHD. two different diagnoses. Today, it’s all called ADHD with three possible subtypes, inattentive, hyperactive slash impulsive, or combined. And as you can probably guess, some folks have focused regulation challenges, again, poorly named inattentive.

Some folks just have hyperactivity, which is far less common. And some folks have both. The inattentive subtype by itself is actually more common in women who are often underdiagnosed because they don’t have that obvious hyperactivity. And conversely, uh, at least back when I was a kid, a lot of people who were diagnosed as ADHD, um, you know, created this backlash of a lot of them were, were boys and it created this backlash.

of kind of this idea that doctors were just labeling normal kind of gender stereotyped boy hyperactivity as ADHD. And so, you know, for me, I’m just, I just fuck stereotypes. As you may have gathered already, the language around ADHD is steeped in ableism and stereotypes. And I just like, just fuck that shit, right?

You are a goddamn unicorn superhero. Your ADHD will create it. Some unique challenges for you, just like neurotypical folks often have some of their own unique challenges. Um, and it also gives you some amazing superpowers that neurotypical folks just wish they could have. You’re going to, you know, potentially be more creative.

You’re going to be drowning in ideas. Um, And, uh, you know, those are things that sometimes neurotypical folks struggle with. Um, and kind of that, that incredible hyper focused state, if you can get to it, um, is just absolutely amazing. So, um, all of which is to say, it’s a badly named condition that reinforces a lot of ableism, um, and can create these perceptions of folks with ADHD that are sometimes true, but don’t necessarily be.

Paint an entire picture. So, um, anyways, that’s it for today. Uh, if you feel like your ADHD is holding you back, I send out a short email each weekday on how to unlock your neurodivergent superpowers. And if you want to sign up for that, head over to to sign up. That’s it for today.

And, uh, I will see you next time. Cheers.