ADHD: What is it?

Are you familiar with ADHD (Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder)? In this video, Ariadne Ferro provides a comprehensive understanding of ADHD that goes beyond the commonly known symptom of attention deficit, highlighting its multi-dimensional nature.

Understanding ADHD

Nick: I mean, look, you do have real talent. And obviously, academically, you did well. And you're doing all these different things now; you're living away from your home country. And that has lots of challenges, which we'll touch on.

But I guess maybe some of our listeners are saying, well, how is all this related to ikigai? And so we're going to talk about how this having ADHD changed your life and led to intercultural and inclusion work, and how ikigai has supported the work you do.

But I think we should start off with a clear understanding of what ADHD is. If you're asked that question, what's the answer you generally offer?

Ariadne: Yeah, ADHD is a type of neurodivergence. So meaning just different ways of interacting in the world of processing, but at this level, so it's basically a delay in development of the prefrontal cortex of the brain.

So if you think that the brain begins to develop here, you know, just like the more basic part of the brain at the base, and then the prefrontal cortex, it's the last little bit to develop. So for most people, it develops in the mid 20s. And this is the part that is in charge of our executive functions.

It's the CEO of the brain, the command center of the brain that's in charge of decision making, task initiation — all of these things that kind of constitute a mature decision maker, somebody who can make wise decisions and make good decisions, impulse control, et cetera.

So this is the part that develops last. But in most folks with ADHD, there's a delay, and a delay could be upwards of three years. So it's a type of neurodivergence, and alongside others, and others, that many people have probably heard of: autism spectrum disorder, or dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, etc. So it's one of those.

And then ADHD, people used to maybe familiar with ADD, but now we refer to it as ADHD, but with different types of presentation. So there's the attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; so there's the hyperactive presentation, then there is an inattentive presentation, so people are kind of like, ‘Oh, where did I leave my keys?’ Or everyday ‘Where are my sunglasses?’, ‘Where's my phone?’, ‘Where's my keys?’

And then there's the combination, which is what I have, that is the hyperactivity and the inattention. There are some experts in the field who don't like the name Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, because it's not really a deficit of attention, it's a dysregulation of attention. So if something does not motivate you at all, it's like, don't even talk to me about it.

Our working memory is very slow. I could go into a shop and I could say, ‘How do I get to this section?’ And if they give me a step, that's more than two steps long, I look to my point, I'm like, I hope you got that. Because I got the upstairs to the right, and everything else is like Charlie Brown teacher speak.

See, I don't even know where I was going with this. But anyway, if I'm passionate about something, I could get lost in this rabbit hole of attention where nothing else exists around me, but that absolutely motivates me. So it's not a deficit of attention, it's a dysregulation of attention. So it's either too little or too much depending on motivation, etc.

So yeah, and the reason I talk about TikTok is that it's not just, because I mean, especially now with smartphones, and with just all of this stimulation, all this information, our attention spans have gotten shorter and shorter. So we all have this kind of, whoa, what's going on out here?

But ADHD is a lot more. It's not just that. There's a lot more that comes along with it, that's a whole podcast in of itself as well. But yes, it's not just the attention bit or the hyperactivity bit. There's a lot more there, too.