Possible Strengths of Individuals with SCT
There may be some strengths that some people with SCT display, but of course I can only speak from my experiences. I want to note that these are not absolute strengths but rather strengths relative to the weaknesses found in SCT.
- Conscientiousness – Being conscientious has been described as “the state of being thorough, careful, or vigilant” as well as “a desire to do a task well.” However, if one is labeled as having “attention deficit disorder” or “sluggish cognitive tempo”, conscientiousness may be the last thing that comes to mind when referring to those individuals. In fact, the DSM-IV has used the word “careless” multiple times when referring to primarily inattentive ADD (see my article “My opinion on the DSM rhetoric”) and carelessness implies the complete opposite of conscientiousness. I think this characterization of ADD is just plain wrong and could not be further from the truth. I find that my inner desire to succeed and accomplish goals has helped me in multiple regards, including educational pursuits. And when I talk about accomplishing goals, I do not mean merely completing tasks by sliding by and cutting corners but by going beyond expectations in some instances. I also find my desire to do well is almost perfectionist.
- Hyperfocus – The writing and preparation of this website is indeed an example of my ability to over focus or “hyperfocus” on a subject. The idea of hyperfocusing has both positive and negative consequences though. In hyperfocusing, all attention and energy is directed toward a single task, while other tasks that are just as important if not more important than the current task are neglected. I do not experience hyperfocus as pitch perfect focus, (I have ADD after all) but more like being addicted a task. I think hyperfocus is really an example of “executive dysfunction” – a term often used in the scientific community – but that this ability-disability is both a gift and a curse. One ADDer once started a popular post titled “hyperfocus as a superpower.”
- Metacognition – Having common sense and general intelligence is very much at odds with SCT/ADD symptoms like memory deficits so it results in a certain type of internal struggle. I often find that my insight and conceptual understanding is at a “tug of war” with my actual ability to demonstrate this understanding. As a result, I devise mechanisms that can be roughly called “thinking about thinking.” What most people do naturally and effortlessly such as even speaking sometimes involves deliberate thought and practice for me, and it is this deliberate thought that puts me in a state where others may never need to attend. One time my dad told me I tended to “metacognize about metacognizing.” This could all just be a fancy way of referring to an anxious, restless mind.
- Above average artistic and/or creative abilities – Dr. Adele Diamond has commented about how children with ADD (without hyperactivity) may have well-preserved or sometimes even superior visual artistic abilities but this also comes at the cost of auditory processing difficulties. I can say that my drawing skills are a little above average, but nowhere near professional artistic status. For example, in biology class students are often expected to sketch drawings of laboratory organisms. A biology class typically has students from many backgrounds (not specifically art-oriented) so my drawings may seem more elaborate than some. However, in a classroom filled with art majors, I am just average at best.
As far as creative writing is concerned, the best way I could describe what is happening in my mind is this: There is a lot of “stuff” in my brain, but it is not always accessible when I need it. It seems that many thoughts are accessible to me in 7 second sound bites, the same kind of sound bites that are broadcasted on the 6 ‘o clock news which are meant to give the public an idea of what politician XYZ’s speech was about. My brain very much seems like a random processor in that sense. This random processing may be due to a weakness for sequential thinking, a lack of biological RAM, a fragmented hard drive, or something else altogether.
But all because this is the way my brain tends to output information, doesn’t mean I am particularly satisfied or pleased with the results. If I kept my raw output the way it was, it would make for some utterly sloppy and incoherent logic. This is unacceptable to me because then some meta-mental faculty of mine tells me what is unsound about my logic and then I am able to organize my ideas into better order. When I was in high school I earned an acknowledgement certificate for my creative writing because my teacher said my writings were unique (probably for the reasons described above). However, I haven’t done any serious creative writing since high school (many years ago) due to lack of inspiration and depression, as well as changing interests for non-fiction and science-y reading.