Neurodiverse Character Sheets

Let’s make neurodiverse character sheets. A list of the specific characteristics we have, as if we were characters in a role playing game.

Let’s start with our super powers: Easily Hyperfocuses, or Vibrant Fantasy World Instead of saying that sounds overwhelm us, let’s call it Heightened Senses: Hearing. The opposite would be Subdued Senses: Hearing (aka Sound Resistance).

Then let’s count the cool abilities our neurodiversity gives us: Extraordinary Ability: Computer Programming, or Extraordinary Memory for Facts. Some things may positive or negative: Not Offended by Bluntness, or Only Hears the Literal.

Then we can also list the things we have trouble with, after all the abilities: Difficulty With Body Language, or Can’t Concentrate on Boring Things (is that really a disadvantage?)

The point is when we look at ourselves as characters on a character sheet, we see our abilities and disabilities as tangible items that we can isolate and talk about. But more importantly, we focus on the combination of attributes that make us unique.

Featured

Attention Sufficient

Since I’ve been on ADHD meds, I’m capable of noticing nonverbal communication and feedback on social behaviour. But I spent the first forty-some years of my life not learning social customs.  So they’re not ingrained.

I’ve found that if I sit down and study social behaviour, I can learn it. Even now, when I’m better at noticing feedback, some things I just need explained to me in clear, explicit terms, similar to how neurotypical people study for school subjects.

This is my journey, learning more about social customs through intentional study, more about ADHD through the contrast of where I was and where I am, and more about people in general. I still have ADHD. But in many ways, my attention is now sufficient

Executive Function

My ADHD medicine, atomoxetine, is different from other ADHD medications. Atomoxetine, marketed under the brand name Strattera, is not a stimulant, like other ADHD medicine. Rather, it increases executive functioning. It goes at the heart of the problem.

“Executive function” is that part of the brain that watches the rest of the brain. It’s where you get time sense, and ensure you’re still on track, and in general keep track of what you’re thinking and doing. ADHD is, fundamentally, having less executive function. Atomoxetine is proven to increase executive function.

All my life, my mother has told me that when I’m looking for something I lost I should think of the last place I saw it. This never made sense to me. I’d think, “Where was the last place I saw this?”, and I would answer myself, every time, “I don’t know”. Then, about two weeks after starting Atomoxetine, I was looking for something, and I thought about where I last saw it. A little voice in my head said, “Your daughter had it in the back right seat of the car yesterday.” And that’s where it was. That little voice was my executive function.