When you observe the world and realize that most of it moves too slowly, that you spend most of your time waiting for people to catch up, catch on, or simply catch the ball, you may have a predisposition to hyperactivity.
A lot of people think hyperactivity is linked with two other negative personality traits namely attention deficit disorder and impulsivity disorder. Quite frankly, one of them is enough to handle. The very idea that someone might have all three is like three tomcats in a bag.
I’ve never given much credibility to attention deficit disorder because I’ve always considered the inability to focus as a lame excuse, a lack of discipline, and a real fall from grace, because someone like me who’s hyperactive zeros in on just about everything with the attention factor of an eagle, and a clenching hold not unlike a bull dog. If nothing more, riveting makes the day go quickly.
Yet, in the last week, I’ve been focusing in on attention deficit with new interest because I’ve noticed that some of my loved ones are really out there – distracted by extraneous world clutter, and I wonder how they managed to get there much less stay there.
Parents often hand down personality traits to children, so I think examining mom and dad will help nearly anyone understand why a child behaves as he does.
Attention deficits (ADs) don’t seem to have a sense for spending time. It’s a trait that starts in childhood. He or she may know the time every moment, but spending a block of time has no parameters; it’s a free for all. An hour, five hours, five minutes is inconsequential. Suggest that one should spend only so much time on something or it becomes wasted time, and you’re presenting quantum mechanics.
Consequently, an attention deficit child will waste other people’s time as carelessly as he wastes his own, and he’ll balk at complaints. He can’t understand why the blithe disposal of time is so irritating to someone who marks off time with a “get it done now” agenda namely the hyperactive.
One of the parameters of work is time. Another is the ability to work linearly – starting, doing and finishing in that order. Attention deficit children don’t seem to have a big picture of what’s going on, so they can’t work from beginning to end. They start, oh, someplace, mmmm, I dunno, and end, well someplace else.
Here’s an example:
While the AD child prepares to do a puzzle, he will wash the table, push in the chair, find another puzzle to do after he’s done the one in front of him. He will ask forty questions about the puzzle and then he will have to go to the bathroom check out what every other child is doing, get a drink, ask about when recess is until, in fact, it is recess – oops, no puzzle. If the puzzle gets started, generally speaking it will take four years, the pieces will most likely be lost, and it will stay on the table forever. The puzzle should never die.
The hyperactive on the other hand will look at the puzzle and say, “I could do that, so what’s the point?” If they actually like the puzzle, they will figure how to do it as quickly as possible – four corners first, four sides, and then by shape not color, they will do quadrants until it’s done. It’s a job not a recreation, so get it done and move to the next thing. Recreation? What’s recreation? Life is work.
Getting the answer out of an attention deficit child is often becomes a battle of wits. He will tell you that he’s thirsty, cold, hungry, or needs to use the bathroom, the answer is someplace, and sooner or later, he’ll find it.
The one really annoying attention deficit trait is tangents. An AD personality will change the subject mid conversation as if conversation is the least important part of his day. Pour out your heart and he’ll ask you where the ketchup is.
Pair a hyperactive child with an AD child and you have the proverbial nightmare project.
While the AD tries to drag his partner through extra minutes going down blind alleys, reading suddenly found inconsequential material, doing the same dumb mistake fifty times and asking pertinent questions that become impertinant – they have not a single relevant point - the hyperactive is growling at the thousand extra steps as he busies himself cutting large chunks of the AD’s work corners with a buzz saw.
So what’s the prognosis for the two?
The AD child becomes the guy who spends the evening changing TV channels. Most people would say he just can’t pay attention, but it’s just another example of wasting everyone’s time.
And the hyperactive won’t notice, because for most hyperactives, TV is not really worth watching anyway because it’s passive and you have to sit down.