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ADHD and hyperfocus

By Gail Belsky

At a Glance

  • People with ADHD can hyperfocus on things they’re very interested in.

  • Hyperfocus doesn’t mean people don’t have problems with attention.

  • ADHD medication may help with hyperfocus.

People with ADHD have difficulty focusing. But many can also hyperfocus on things they’re very interested in. 

The idea of hyperfocus can be confusing. How can a person who has trouble focusing on most things lose themselves in a video game, movie, or craft project for hours? It might look like that person doesn’t really struggle with attention. 

But having good focus requires two things. People need to be able to pay attention even if something isn’t that interesting. And they need to be able to not pay attention to something interesting — or something that’s bothering them — when they need to focus on other things. 

When it comes to focus, people with ADHD have difficulty in three areas:

  • Sustaining their attention, especially to things that aren’t very interesting 

  • Choosing what’s important to pay attention to in a given moment

  • Shifting their attention from one thing to another

They might have no problem tuning out distractions to focus on things that interest them. But they may have trouble shifting their attention to something else. Or they just keep doing what they’re doing because it’s more interesting than what they’re being asked to do.

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  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom