Recently, I came across a video of psychologist Dr. Russell Barkley, and his lecture “debunking the myth” that ADHD is a gift. He argues that “There is no way that we can go to Ottawa and walk the halls of parliament, arguing for accommodations, entitlements, funding of ADHD medications on the one hand, while rah-rah cheering ADHD as this wonderful giftedness that we have and you don’t [on the other].” ?I understand his point, because believe you me, I understand the daily struggle and enormous effort it takes to simply move forward productively through the day living with ADHD. I am also an advocate for the importance of ADHD awareness and treatment, HOWEVER, I disagree with his notion that rejects the idea that ADHD “predisposes to anything positive in human life.” Ouch.
ADHD is associated with structural, functional, electrical, and chemical abnormalities of the brain. Abnormalities that demonstrate a different way of thinking. It takes a different way of thinking to generate breakthrough ideas, or unexplored solutions. It takes a different kind of brain chemistry to instinctively respond with clarity and focus in a crisis situation. These are qualities that I would not only consider to be positive in human life, but I’d go so far as to say imperative to it.
Can we acknowledge the positive and remarkable strengths and abilities associated with ADHD while still recognizing the importance of proper diagnosis, management, and treatment for it?
Can learning to harness the advantages of ADHD, help us to thrive and succeed in spite of it? Can we empower individuals living with ADHD, by teaching them to reframe their perspective on the diagnosis? Should we celebrate and share the stories of the successes of people with ADHD? ?Yes, yes, and yes!
I can give you a list of all the reasons I should HATE my ADHD. I can tell you stories of failures, and frustrations, and all the ways I’ve screwed up as a result of my brain function. I can choose to be angry about my disorder and resent it, OR I can look for the qualities that make me shine. By learning to recognize and focus on what I CAN do, I begin to feel less restricted by shortcomings.
It is impossible for me to know which qualities are directly associated with ADHD, which are compensatory, and which are completely unrelated, but I do know that by utilizing my strengths, recognizing and working on my weaknesses, and finding effective treatment and therapy for my ADHD, I find that nothing is out of my reach!