View Full Version : when did your hyperfocus start?
03-16-06, 06:55 AM
I went to a psychiatrist to discuss my attention (and somewhat memory) problems and see if they could be add-induced. He pretty much stopped taking me seriously after I told him that for certain things I had a phenomenal attention span starting from when I was 3 years old and that I did very well in elementary school (even though I rarely ever did anything did/join homeworks/activities I did not like, and was regarded as somewhat forgetful and careless by my parents). I was wondering if any of you had extremely good attention spans for certain things when you were little (listening to a book, doing a puzzle, etc. for ~3 hours).
I can't really decide whether to take the word of this psychiatrist (with whom I couldn't communicate well from the start because he seemed somewhat impatient and that stressed me out, though to his I don't show it much), or look further into the matter, so any comments are appreciated.
03-16-06, 12:02 PM
I know for myself I was actually diagnosed at 3 or 4 as "hyperactive" and offered meds which I didn't get. But I could also sit still and listen to someone reading to me if I was interested in the subject. The hyperactivity can be physical or mental -- it just has to be stimulation of some kind to keep that sleepy cortex up and running. My daughter who is also ADD -- very much the picture of "driven as if by a motor" as she literally bounces off our walls from running back and forth repeatedly can totally sit down and focus if she is interested and has been able to do so since 3 or so. You might read Thomas Brown's book Attention Deficit Disorder: The Unfocused Mind in Children and Adults. He addresses this question of ability to focus on some things of interest. If someone is bright their grades may not be the thing that suffers the most if school is pretty interesting to them and/or the feedback/consequences/rewards are immediate enough. I did okay in grade school and earned high honors in college, but I'm very ADD. One of the things that shows it off is the discrepancy between my IQ and my performance. I might be able to pull a C in math of spelling, but according to my IQ I should have been doing a lot better than that. In subjects I really liked (history) I did get A's. Anyway, like I said Brown explains all this a lot better than I can -- most people still don't quite get how this ability to attend can fluxuate. I think that's because they still think ADD is about attention -- it's NOT. It's about behavioral inhibition -- you don't have to inhibit a behavior you're enjoying! Hopefully someday the name will change and there will be less confusion out there about this kind of inconsistency.
I'm kind of partial to psychologist who specialize in ADD -- they can do the assessment and you can have them send their diagnostic findings to your general physician who can prescribe.
Oh and welcome to the forums! Let us know how things go for you!
03-16-06, 12:52 PM
Howdy lucky luke -- welcome to the forums!
I could concentrate on things I liked from an early age. I would be like 9 years old and staying up till 3am with my flashlight to read a book -- with my radio on (no headphones, so I turned it down really low and taped my toy stethoscope to the speaker... :) )
As for elementary school -- my performance was "mixed"... :rolleyes: Let's see -- started out in the "slow learners" group, by 4th grade was spending part of my day with the 5th graders; but grades were getting progressively worse. At that point it was the "if you would just apply yourself" bit. Maybe if I was smarter I could still have winged it through. In a way it was easier when I was "slow" -- fewer expectations.
By the way, I recently had the chance to meet some local mothers and their ADHD kids. One of the boys is one of the most hyper I've ever seen. Literally running nonstop. But put a book in front of him, and he's nailed to the floor. His mom says that's the only time he sits still. To the point where his dad will yell at him "no more books!" (Wish I had that problem with my son...)
I hope i am doing this response right. I am 51 & was just dx'd about 2 yrs ago after a divorce losing 24 yrs of marriage. Now i can look back at a lot of things and see why things happened the way they did. Regarding childhood, i remember i had extreme difficulties reading a book for school-i rememeber trying to bluff my way thru our weekly book rpts we had to do (orally-how i hated that). I remember my grandma had this book called "Baseball Joe and the School 9th" or soemthing like that-there was some pictures in it. i dont know why i was fascinated with the book other than it was old and the old plates (pics) were interesting. i remember i would wander off in thought about what that picture was saying. Needless to say the teacher had no trouble figuring out i had no idea what the story was about.
However, i found out about "The Hardy Boys" mystery books. Now those i could read front to back and stick with them till i fell asleep or read the whole thing thru. maybe b/c i liked adventure & mystery & Basil Rathbone, etc, and i always saw myself in the book itself, and i couldnt wait to solve the mystery. So i started on those for rpts. However, the teacher told me i had to rpt on something other than Hardy Boys all the time. i look back and it was a miracle i ever graduated. In 3rd grd I remember Mrs Cunningham (not Ritchie's mom...haha) took my one & only friend & i to the side and said "look at these" showing us our rpt cards, all Unsatisfactories. Then she said in a voice of pure frustration that i will never forget..."You know what? I am going to pass you 2. You know why? B/c i cant handle another year of you!" I dont think we were bad (maybe Gordy had ADD too, who knows-they didnt know about such things back then...and in the old Catholic school it wouldnt have mattered-u listened to the nuns & the teachers or it was the stick-or like one time in 2nd grd we were walking in line down the hallway (do they make kids walk in a line these days), w/absolute quiet. The kid in front of me was talking, so Sister Gertrude, this tiny nun, balled up her fist and took a swing at the kid. He ducked and she decked me. She jsut looked down at me and said "watch out next time!" I didnt say a word. and u know what folks, i am not driving thru a McD's w/an AK-47 blazing away. i survived. i guess i have problems with excuse makers. sorry.
anyway back to books-this was always a problem later on in the rest of my classes. If it was something hands on, like in biology class, i could do something, but not read a book. I remember algebra my freshman HS yr-i got A's & C's. A's when i turned in homework, C's when i didnt. Math was a breeze for me even thru my 1st time in college after i got out of the Marines. I tested out of math. I loved my chemistry class and red the books and got A's on my labs & tests. But then i left college on an impulsive decision (gosh-imagine that) b/c of a run-in with the bioethics professor, leaving baseball and basketball and all the glory of being the old man on the team (i was 23 or so). When i came back abotu 15 yrs later, it wasnt so easy anymore. and of course still not knowing what was going on didnt help. I did ok in my analytical chem b/c it had hands on labs and i aced those. but the tests i didnt. i ended up w/a C, but a D in Organic & i flunked calculus (yes-i took those 3 courses my 1st yr back to college after 15 yrs-15 credits, as i had a very poor advisor).
anyway, today i still have problems reading. there are times u can see up to 7-8 books on my bed 1/2 read, antoher 1/2 read dozen or 2 under my bed or in piles elsewhere. i am workring on that.
finally-and i am sorry if i am rambling-yes-find a PhD, not MD. MD's do meds, and i find that actually my regular dr, who does all my meds, is more understanding than a psych MD. i dont know why. and i am so thankful to God for my psychologist who had to take me thru a long process...liek waiting 2 yrs of me being clean & sober, then having to r/o bipolar, schizoaffective, anxiety DO's, etc b/c of my family history. Then he sent me to library to check out "Healing ADD" by Dr Amen. That wasnt there but "Scattered" by Dr Gabor Mate was-and that is when the light went on for me re: my having been blessed w/ADHD. I still cant read thru a book yet, tho eventually i try to finish some of them just so i cna move them to a new pile somewhere. I am new still and jsut learnign things. i jsut had my 1st ADHD support group mtg last nite (long story but it took me 3 times to get the right day, right time & right bldg all to match up...which is why i need to be there).
ok. nuff sed. i apologize if i rambled on. have a blessed day.
I guess I never thought of it as hyperfocus, but when little, I would never give up something until I mastered it. Learning to tie my shoes was like two straight days, interrupted only by dinner and sleep, until I mastered it. Same thing with whistling, snapping my fingers, etc. My mom used to tease me about how the whole world would disappear for me until I mastered something.
03-16-06, 02:32 PM
If hyperfocus = obsession then yes. Since I was little I loved doing artwork. I'd work on a piece all day long. I still do. There's nothing else that I can get so lost in and stay focused on for so long.
I have OCD too, so I can get stuck, for example, cleaning the sink with a toothbrush for a few hours as well - but I don't see it as the same thing, because I don't enjoy cleaning the sink - I just have to - it becomes my life's mission for the time being. :eyebrow:
So as you say, being able to focus on things we're interested in for long periods of time - I would say yes, I do that, and I have severe ADHD and otherwise can't focus worth beans.
03-16-06, 08:07 PM
Thank you all for your quick responses.
I think I will wait for a while until I muster up the courage again and see some one else. In the meanwhile, just knowing that it is okay for my mind to drift awhile as long as it comes back eventually made things better, it can take me a whole day to study a 2-hour thing, but at least I usually manage to get it done. Before I used to find it ridiculous that it was taking me so long, I would rush myself, and only end up getting stressed and give up.
My problem is also not that I'm failing all through, but doing so much worse and taking so much more time than I should. I do very well in some college course, but extremely poor in others.
(I also liked Hardy Boys and other mystery books a lot. I even started writing one when I was about ten - I didn't finish, of course)
03-18-06, 01:18 PM
When I was a kid I couldn't do any thing that required sitting still. I could watch TV only if I could move about also. I didn't being hyper-focusing until Jr. High even then I had to get up and physical move about.....come to think of it I am still that way at 42. I can mentally hyper focus yes but physically sit still for longer than an hour Uhmmmm no. I am about as pure hyper ADD as humanoids come. I believe people with combined and inattentive are able to hyper focus with out the need of physical activity.
The psychiatrist id you didn't feel comfortable talking to him or her then I believe in finding one who isn't impatient. Remember when you go in for treatment the health care professional is working for you NOT the other way around. Also finding out weather or not a doctor is well versed in ADD in adults, and the different ADD sub-types, may save time and money. See a doctor who is still operating on ADD knowledge of 20 years ago isn't much of a help......and would be a waste of time and energy to bother with..
03-21-06, 12:57 AM
Yes. So I found a department of a hospital that is specialized in add and do more thorough testing. They are booked for the next few months, but it is free so oh well.
Thank you all again.
03-21-06, 11:43 AM
Glad you got the input you needed, luke.
I'll throw in here that I hyperfocused like CRAAAZY on books when I was little. My report cards don't complain nearly as much about not paying attention as they do about reading in class! (I got good grades too, by the way.)
I remember loving preschool, and my preschool report noted that I had an "above-average" attention span for my age. My guess: hyperfocus. There were some other subtle clues, like a noted low frustration tolerance and a serious reluctance to switch activities. But my being bright, ADHD wasn't at all obvious at that stage.
(Big clue! My issues switching between activities was noted to be "getting better" from several different teachers in a row starting with preschool! If you see things like that in your report cards - repetitious "getting better"s - it means you were actually not making up for the delay in that skill.)
As I went up through the grade levels, you can see the comments and "behaviour" scores in my report cards slowly start to change in tone/drop, although I was still a pretty "good" student by most definitions.
03-22-06, 03:51 AM
"If you see things like that in your report cards - repetitious "getting better"s - it means you were actually not making up for the delay in that skill." - I'm not sure what you mean by this.
I often could not stop reading at the dinner table. My parents did not know whether to be very happy or very angry.
04-25-06, 09:36 AM
Luke - if it takes you a day to do a 2 hour task, how do you get back to it ? Does your mind go blank???? or is it the distractions?