The ADHD Gift of Multitasking

One of the ADHD gifts that I love is the ability to effortlessly multitask. There is something about ADHD that makes multitasking easy and makes us perform better when we have several things going on at once. Everyone in the 21st century multitasks but this is something that ADHDers do particularly effortlessly.  The biology of this is simple.  More tasks going on in the brain cause a certain 'stress' on the body which signals the brain to make more dopamine.  Faulty dopamine levels is at the crux of the problem with persons that have ADHD and anything that boost dopamine helps them control their inattentive, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity symptoms.

I blog at work.  I would feel guilty about this except that I am very productive at work.  The hospital where at work has monthly quality assessments and provides each health care worker with data regarding how many patients were seen, how quickly these patients were evaluated and treated, and how satisfied these patients were with their visits.  My quality assessment numbers are usually at the top or very near the top when I am compared to my peers.

Before I was a Physician Assistant, I waited tables.  I made a lot of money waiting tables because I was usually given the large tables and many of them.  I was somehow better than most of the wait staff at multitasking and remembering who had the calamari and who had the well done rib eye steak.  The busier I was, the more dopamine in my brain and the better my performance.

The problem with this ADHD multitasking gift comes when we try to do too many things in too little time and the accuracy with which we perform our tasks, start to drop.  The trick, for those of us with ADHD, is finding the right amount of tasks that will optimize our performance without jeopardizing the quality of our work. 

The type of work you do is also important.  It has been said that people with ADHD do particularly well in jobs such as firefighting, police work, air traffic controlling, and emergency medicine.  The excitement of those jobs keeps our dopamine wells primed and that, in turn, improves our work performance.

I cannot blog when my children are home.  One of the interesting thing about parenting is that kids do not do not appreciate multitasking.  They have some sort of innate sensing device that informs them when you are not giving them your 100% attention and they make your life miserable until you give them the attention that they are seeking.  This is probably one of those well honed, primal instincts in children that insure that their physical, emotional, and mental growth is not compromised.  It has not been easy to relinquish the use of multitasking, one of my favorite ADHD gifts, when I am with them.

It has been humbling, for me, to adjust my behaviors to fit this primal need of theirs but I have done it.  My children have made me slow down, put away everything I have in my hands, and mentally clear my brain of anything other than them.  It has been an exercise that has taken a lot of effort on my part but I am so glad that they have taught me how to do it.

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