Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that often starts in childhood and can persist into adulthood. An estimated 8.7% of adolescents will have a lifetime of ADHD, but this can be low or high-functioning ADHD.
High-functioning ADHD is an optimal outcome for many sufferers because they can carry on with daily life with mild symptoms. Multiple strategies are utilized to live a higher quality of life that is more fulfilling. We’ll be covering many strategies throughout this article to help minimize symptoms and help patients live as normal a life as possible.
What is High Functioning ADHD?
A person with high-functioning ADHD has learned to deal with the impact of ADHD, often through multiple strategies, to minimize adverse side effects and live a relatively normal life.
Will you experience symptoms?
Yes, but they’re mild and will not interfere with your daily activities. You may experience some symptoms and not others, but you use strategies to compensate for your ADHD. One study shows that a high-functioning ADHD sufferer puts in extra effort to deal with the disorder and may not realize they have a disorder at all.
What Does High Functioning ADHD Look Like?
High-functioning adult ADHD looks much like anyone’s life without this disorder. You can expect to:
- Go to work and have a fruitful career
- Maintain relationships with friends, family and romantic partners
- Work may be more intense because you put in extra effort to get work done
- Perform well under pressure because a sense of urgency keeps you focused
It’s also possible that a person has ADHD but is never diagnosed because they have relied on workarounds their entire life. You may put in more time and effort to excel in a career or relationship, but it’s “normal” for you since it’s something you’ve always done.
You may have undiagnosed adult ADHD if you’re:
- Experiencing mood swings
- Stressed easily
- Having difficulty focusing on one task
However, there’s a significant difference between someone who has high and low-functioning ADHD.
High-Functioning vs Low-Functioning ADHD
High-functioning ADHD allows a person to live a normal life, but its low-functioning counterpart can lead to difficulties in:
- Obtaining an education
- Maintaining a career
If you have comorbidities that impact your life on top of ADHD, it can lead to a low-functioning form of ADHD. Many people who have high-functioning ADHD are diagnosed at a young age and have learned to cope with their symptoms.
Low-functioning ADHD often occurs in a person who is diagnosed at a later age or who has been less receptive to strategies to help improve their condition.
Strategies that can help a patient living with high-functioning ADHD can be used by someone on the other end of the spectrum, too.
Strategies for Living with High-Functioning ADHD
Living with high-functioning ADHD is possible with the help of therapy and employing multiple strategies to keep your symptoms under control. A few of the approaches that work well for sufferers include:
Time Management and Organization
When a person is on a very close deadline, they can often dig their heels in and get the task that they need to complete done. Time management and organization are crucial for anyone with high-functioning ADHD because it empowers a person to:
- Stay on task
- Manage their condition
Staying focused is difficult for anyone with ADHD. Creating deadlines can help you stay focused and on-task.
Many people with ADHD of all levels find that a daily routine is beneficial for them. When you have a daily routine to follow, it helps you break free from distractions and get things done.
Focus and Concentration
Deadlines are difficult to meet when you’re not focused and can’t concentrate on the task ahead. Deadlines, or any task that you’re trying to achieve, is often better when you:
- Create distraction-free zones that allow you to maintain focus
- Break tasks into bite-sized chunks that are doable
- Start longer tasks with a plan
If you find that concentrating is too difficult for long periods, set a timer on your phone that helps you create time chunks. Apps can help you manage your time effectively.
Emotions can creep into your day and cause you to get stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts. Counseling is one of the best ways to learn how to manage these feelings and regulate them in a positive manner.
Behavioral therapy is just one way that you can get your emotions under control and learn how to use them in a positive manner.
Building On Strengths and Embracing Uniqueness for Patients with High-functioning ADHD
Every person has their own unique strengths and traits that make them “special.” If you can identify these strengths, you can use them to your advantage and work to minimize your ADHD symptoms.
Identifying and Harnessing Strengths
Unlocking ADHD is possible if you can harness your strengths. You should take time to pause and reflect on them. For example:
- What areas in life do you excel in?
- ·What tasks give you energy?
- ·What is something that you can do better than others?
You can ask others about your strengths or even learn them in a therapy setting. Leveraging these strengths in your daily life is going to help you manage your ADHD symptoms.
Embracing Unique Traits
Unique traits are much like your strengths in that you need to look within to find them. Perhaps you perform poorly in science but are amazing at math. This is a unique trait. You may also have other traits unique to you, such as:
- Being able to think outside the box
- Feeling comfortable in chaotic situations
- Having the ability to work well with others
Once you know your unique strengths, use them to your advantage in everything that you try to accomplish.
Final Thoughts on High-Functioning ADHD
High-functioning ADHD is the goal for many sufferers because it allows them to live a life that is fulfilled and minimizes symptoms through strong coping mechanisms. If you are within this group, you can connect with others in your community through:
- Meetup groups
If you want to reach high-functioning ADHD or believe that you already may be in this classification, working with a professional can help you live a life with minimal symptoms.