Our busy brains spur us to the heights of innovation — so we should celebrate our out-of-the-box thinkers, not force them to conform.
If people with ADHD are consistently found on the cutting edge of human innovation — inventing the light bulb, starting Apple computers and other Fortune 500 companies, taking Olympic gold medals, writing bestsellers, directing movies, winning the Super Bowl — why do we continue to accept the words deficit and disorder as part of the definition?
How can we expect kids to feel good if we insist that there is something wrong with them because they don’t respond with interest to a more conventional approach to life and education?
Keeping a house — and a life — in order is something that comes as naturally to my English adoptive parents as living unpredictably and doing several things at the same time has always come to me.
Even though as a child I was doing things most girls my age could not — writing, directing, and casting myself as Tony in the 20-minute English schoolgirl version of West Side Story when I was 10 is one example — I was also the untidiest girl in the school. My orderly teachers and parents did not approve of my unconventional ways.
Then when I was 28, I found my birth parents in the United States. Among other things, I learned that I was the genetic offspring of two unpredictable, impulsive, creative, energetic, successful, untidy Americans who have always done more than one thing at a time.
I learned that my lack of skill and interest in domestic life, and my inability to stand in line without wanting to weep with boredom, is as much a part of who I am as the color of my skin, the shape of my eyes, and the fact that I can never find my socks.
My loving and wonderful adoptive parents no longer blame themselves or me for my unconventional ways. Instead, my family and friends accept the fact that I often need to get up from the table to write down an idea I’ve had for my next book, blog, or a speech I’m giving. The people who know me understand that I’m able to do the many things I do because of — not in spite of — the way my brain was made.
I think we need to acknowledge and respect the positive side of ADHD.
God did not say unto Moses, “Thou shalt only think one thought at a time.” Neither did he say, “Thou shalt bore thy children to tears in the classroom, and if they do not conform to linear learning, thou shalt tell them there is something wrong with them and erode their self-esteem.”
If Moses had asked, I like to think God might have said: “Thou shalt take extra care with the precious children who don’t fit the norm and find new ways to teach and engage them.” For it’s the children who live and think out of the box. If they’re encouraged and valued, they can and will change the world.
Pay Attention, teachers, parents, friends, spouses — this person has Different DNA.