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But even he did not recognize the condition in his daughter, who was finally diagnosed at about five years of age.

Today Frances is a slender, lightly freckled 12-year-old with her dad's warm brown eyes.

Adults in the ADHD group were uniquely able to postpone eating, sleeping and other personal needs and stay absorbed in the "urgent task" for an extended time.

In some circumstances both flow and hyperfocus can be an aid to achievement, but in other circumstance or situations, the same focus and behavior could be a liability, distracting from the task at hand.

” Lowell, seven, received an autism diagnosis much earlier, at 16 months.

Their mom, Page, can recall how different the diagnostic process was for her two children. With Frances, she says, they went from doctor to doctor and were told to simply watch and wait—or that there were various physical reasons for her delays, such as not being able to see well because of an eye condition called strabismus that would require surgical treatment at 20 months.

Conditions associated with perseveration include neurodevelopmental disorders, particularly those considered to be on the autism spectrum (especially Asperger syndrome), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

In the latter, it is informally but probably incorrectly called "hyperfocus" and may be a coping mechanism or a symptom of self-regulation impairment–as well as people who are both intellectually gifted and suffer a learning disability who may have either or both of hyperfocus and perseverative behaviours.

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