Inattentive and Intuitive, A mixed Bag of ADHD Gifts

I recently read an ADD blog where the blogger stated "If Add is a gift, can I return it and get something else?”  I find this line very funny and often feel very much the same way with the exception of one gift that I think most people with ADHD possess.   It is the gift of intuition.  It is the ability to just sense or understand something that is not explicitly obvious or explained.  My partner calls it "the big K, know".  When I know something, beyond a doubt, but cannot explain why or how I know this.   

Neurologist say we only use a small portion of our brain.  I believe that in people with ADHD, the portion of the brain that controls intuition is more developed than in people without this condition.

I will give you an example of a time when my intuition helped me a work.  Several months ago I saw a young man in the emergency room.  He reported that for the last week he had been feeling awful.  He said that he had fever and chills, that his body ached, that he had lost his appetite, and that he was really tired.   All his lab studies and his chest x-ray looked fine.  His temperature and vital signs were normal.  I did a complete physical exam which was totally negative except that he appeared ill.  I called the attending physician in to see him.  The attending examined him, looked at all the studies and said, "Ok, so he has a virus, give him some IV fluids and send him home."  I thought we should do a lumbar pucture.  The attending physician disagreed.   He argued that we had no firm basis on which to justify sticking a needle into this guy’s spine.  I spoke to the family at length and it was agreed that they would bring him back immediately at the slightest sign of worsening.   He returned the next morning and a lumbar puncture was performed.  He was eventually diagnosed with St Louis Encephalitis and stayed in the hospital for over 2 months.  From the moment I walked into that patient's room, I 'big K knew' there was something seriously wrong with this man. 

I have had this 'gift' of intuition all my life and it has served me well.  My sons have it as well and I have learned not to argue with my younger son when he gets a 'gut' feeling about something. He is always right.  Some people call this gift "EQ" for 'emotion quotient’; some people call it being perceptive.  Whatever you call it, it is a unique gift and I would not give it away for anything!

Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous half possession.
Ralph Waldo Emerson 


  1. Throughout my life, I've been eerily intuitive and empathic with people. At the same time, I've been suffering from inattentive ADHD. This leaves me with a very perplexing situation: While I can read people dead on (know them, with a capital K), it's very difficult for me to interact with them.

    Do you or other women with inattentive ADHD experience this dilemma?


  2. I can relate to what Anonymous said above. I've always been able to feel other people's feelings as if they were my own, even when they weren't expressing them explicitly. At the same time, I've always felt awkward and clueless when it comes to knowing how to respond to their emotions, or the right and proper way to interact with them.

  3. It is a paradox. We are able to read people well but can sometimes, because of the awkwardness of our social skills, be unable to connect. As a child I had the social awkwardness much more than I do today. Somehow my social skills improved as I aged. Thank you both for your comments!!

  4. Last night in Borders, I was reading Gifts of ADHD by Lara Honos-Webb and found the part of the book that deals with the interpersonal aspects of inattentiveness very intriguing as it reflects what I often do when interacting with others. Reading it, and realizing I'm not the only person who uses "evenly hovering awareness" when listening to others speak, made feel not so alone in the world, lol.

    I was able to find this particular excerpt online by searching "free floating awareness" and "ADHD" on google. (I'd post the link but it's rather long.)

  5. Mizmar, I did google ADHD Free Floating awareness and did not come up with the link. If you have time to post the link I would love to read it.

    Lara Honos-Webb has been a little controversial because she has written that some folks give their children stimulants when they are not necessary.

    I have a son with Hyperactive Impulsive ADHD who is a danger to himself and others when he is un-medicated and I do believe that parents who give their children stimulants are making an extremely difficult choice and that they do not do it to make their lives easier and that the children do not takes these stimulants to 'get high'. I think that there are gifts to ADHD and that medicating my hyperactive/impulsive son allows those gifts to be better seen.

    When he is un-medicated all you see is an aggressive and often out of control child that does things that he cannot control or understand and that makes him ashamed and confused.

    I believe that a 'one size does not fit all' with ADHD and that medication is absolutely the most humane option in some cases.

    Anyway..... I would still love to read what she has written about 'free floating awareness". Thanks for sharing this info!! Tess

  6. Hi Tessermom,

    Thanks for that background info about Lara Honos Webb. I've only become interested in the subject of ADHD in the past month, so I'm still pretty new to it.

    When I read books on the subject in the bookstore, I tend to skip to the parts about inattentiveness as it is only that trait (and not impulsiveness or hyperactivity) that I see in myself. I don't know if I'd qualify as ADD based solely on the biology of my brain, but I definitely have the trait of distractibility (or what I've always called 'absent-mindedness') and run into many of the same embarrassing problems those with ADHD report having(misplacing things, getting lost, spacing out when others are speaking, forgetting names, ect.). I suspect I may have at least a minor form of Inattentive-ADD.

    Since I'll probably be commenting on your blog more in the future, I'll take this opportunity to thank you for such an informative site. I still have much more reading and learning to do.

    As you requested, here is the link, which you might have to copy-and-paste:


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