Friday, December 29, 2006

Hyperfocus in Action!

People with autism and/or ADD describe themselves as having the ability to hyperfocus, or an intense form of concentration that blocks out everything else. High-functioning people use it to their advantage to excel in the workplace, which is why they often become computer programmers.

This morning we ate breakfast at a fast-food restaurant on the way home. Steve always buys a newspaper when we eat out and we all read our favorite sections. Pamela enjoys reading the television guide, even though we have no programmed television at home (not even rabbit ears). The beauty and order of a lovely schedule engages her full attention.

David spilled his drink all over the table. Steve, David, and I reacted immediately, jumping up, grabbing napkins, and sopping up the mess. Pamela, enraptured by the television schedule, ignores the whole thing. To avoid having a sticky mess all over her beloved newspapers, we stood her up and she stayed there, glued to the newspaper. Pamela remained in that position long enough for us to wipe the spill and take this photograph!

Hyperfocus can be a good thing when you find a way to nurture it and develop it into a niche skill desired by employers. It can be a bad thing when it totally blocks out other learning or communication with people. The key is moderation, which is the exact opposite of hyperfocus!

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