ADHD: a Gift?

They don’t call it a “learning disability” exactly; they call it an “other health impairment” (Understanding ADHD). But it’s just a bunch of labeling-words, so it doesn’t matter. They put you on mind-altering drugs and/or stick you in a “special” classroom with other “disabled” children. Nobody even considers that, perhaps, not everyone’s brain is supposed to work the same way.

I was incredibly blessed to have been born to parents who did not put me in an institution where this would have been the case. But imagine if I had. What if I had grown up being told I was wrongly different and that I must shape up or take a pill to shape me up? I don’t even want to think how drastic of a contrast that would be to my life.

But I would have been categorized and medicated. I was that (all so very typical) kind of kid: hyper, silly, flippant, not very attentive, etc. I know I drove a lot of people crazy because my youngest brother is the same way and sometimes I want to sit on him until he calms down. (I don’t.)

I was talking with one of my gardening clients one morning and she was telling me about her ADHD (adult) son and how he was incredibly active all the time, always doing something… rafting, building stuff, biking, swing dancing, etc.  Her other son is very not-ADHD, and is quite the workaholic, working 12-hour days, never really seeing anybody or doing anything he cares about.  Who do you think enjoys life more?

That conversation with my client sparked somewhat of a hypothesis in my mind: what if ADHD wasn’t a curse, but actually an advantageous personality trait?

Thusly prompted, I set out the next morning to do research. I didn’t have to look far. Almost immediately I found two articles by the same name: “ADHD as a Gift.” The first one was more anecdotal, someone writing about their own child: The second one was more scientific, and thus hugely informative, realistic, and even encouraging:

So what’s the matter with being ADHD? I think, if you feel like you have some “ADHD symptoms”, then take it as a sign – you’d do better, or are doing better, finding your own way in the world of higher education. The way things are typically taught are just not the best for your highly-concentrated learning style. But also, don’t let the illusion of it being a disorder keep you from pursuing an education via college. It may mean you have to bend your ways a little to meet what needs to be done, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it.

On that note, a few days ago, I wrote a small article on how to test out whether college classes work for you for The Unschooler Experiment. Here it is: Crashing College Classes.

It’s so important to be aware of how we learn and work best. I work best switching between activities often, usually moving around a lot if possible. I also like to write and read, but I usually mix these things in with bike-riding or gardening, that kind of thing. How do you learn best?


One response to “ADHD: a Gift?

  1. I think ADHD can be either a curse or blessing depending on the setting. My son has this, and he would have great difficulty in the classroom. However, learning at home, he uses it to his advantage. He is very energetic and hands-on and picks up concepts quickly. Labels and treatment have their place. But I think the bigger problem is the expectation that everyone should be able to thrive in the same kind of environment.

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