Friday’s Links: ADHD and Michael Phelps

Variety is the spice of life.” — proverb

I think this proverb should be amended for those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to read, “Variety is the meat of life.”

I honestly think that ADHD people have so much trouble in school because they are expected to think linearly about one topic at a time, in isolation from everything else.

I have ADHD myself, and I know that I thrive most when I balance two or three things at one time. And when my learning and actions have a purposeful context, and meaning.

This morning I enjoyed an article on swimmer Michael Phelps from the Edge Foundation. It is titled “Michael Phelps is not an Attention Deficit.” His mother says the following about Michael’s childhood:

“In kindergarten I was told by his teacher, ‘Michael can’t sit still, Michael can’t be quiet, Michael can’t focus.’ I said, maybe he’s bored. The teacher said that was impossible. “He’s not gifted,” came back the reply.”

Not gifted! Let’s look at what really makes Michael Phelps thrive in competition.

First, he listens to music on his Ipod while he’s gearing up for races. This is getting him “in the zone,” actually into a zone of what psychologists call “hyperfocus,” (the real H in ADHD). Hyperfocus is a gift, a special ability to tune out the rest of the world and pour all your energy into one thing that you really care about.

Next, Michael doesn’t just swim one event! He swims relays, sprints, and middle-distance events. I suspect that the variety of those different events keeps him engaged, the energy and enthusiasm from each event feeding into the others.

The other article for today is from WebMD and is called “ADHD Medications and Treatments.”

I’m sure the author of this article, Dr. Richard Sogn, has good intentions and thinks he is helping people. But the article assumes that ADHD is a problem, and goes on to recommend the best medications for how to eliminate the problem.

I was encouraged by the Edge Foundation to look at my ADHD as an opportunity rather than a problem.

The opportunity is to string together interesting combinations that may otherwise go unnoticed. To bounce around from one subject to another, and see familiar patterns wherever you go!

Now I want to do an article on notable scientists who are thought to have had ADHD!

2 Responses to Friday’s Links: ADHD and Michael Phelps

  1. Adam D. says:

    When will we learn that the standards WE use, inherit, contrive, or whatever can be faulty. The assumption of our culture is that ADHD is bad, but why do we say this? Is it because we want to force the public to sit in desks all day from age 5 – 18? Why is that okay?
    It’s not! As a public math teacher I supported the presupposition that all students should act identically while receiving an education for many years, but I finally learned that the support for that presupposition was nothingness.

  2. Kirk Hathway says:

    How appropriate for Phelps, what Thoreau says of education: “What does education often do? It makes a straight-cut ditch of a free, meandering brook.” This, of course, reverbs in Einstein: “Education is what is remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”

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