ADHD is not a disability. It is a gift!

by Adela Baker, CACP
I often get called by parents who at their wit’s end with their ADHD kid. I listen to their litany of complaints and the sob stories of IEPs, social anxieties, gaming addictions, evil teachers and slipping grades with empathy and compassion. “I am so sorry that he is struggling in school.” “I am so sorry that you have been dealing with this frustration.” “Apparently you care greatly for him and you are doing the right thing.” “By the way, Congratulations! Your kid has ADHD!” Silence on the other end.
Has anyone ever told you that? No? No one ever acknowledged that you hit the jackpot with this one? That you gave birth to a child with super powers that neurotypical people can only dream of possessing? Wouldn’t it be cool if instead of “It’s a boy!” Or “It’s a girl!” The midwife would say, “It’s a turbo thinker!” Because that is what your child is: a superhero with an innovator brain.
I have never liked the terms ADHD or ADD. There’s a D for “deficit” and a D for “disorder”. In Spanish and French it’s called TDAH. That’s not much better. Again, a D for “déficit” and, get this, the T stands for “trastorno” or “trouble”. Can you imagine hearing the psychologist or psychiatrist tell you that your kid has officially been diagnosed as Trouble?! 
In English, why can’t that D stand for Dynamite, Divine, Deluxe, Delight, Diva, Diverting or Disco Dance Party? These kids don’t just think outside of the box. They didn’t know that there was a box there in the first place. They have trouble taking the test because it doesn’t even begin to cover what’s on their mind. They have a Ferrari engine in a tiny tricycle playground. Imagine Einstein or daVinci taking a standardized test. They would be tearing out their hair in frustration, heaving deep sighs, looking around the room, tapping or swaying in their chairs. Why, oh, why must they suffer so much? The mental, emotional and physical confinement is excruciating! ADHD is not a disability. It is a gift!
Why is there no 5k walkathon to raise awareness for ADHD? For the same reason that we don’t have walkathons for left-handedness. Do we have walkathons for nearsightedness? Nope, not for that either. Maybe some would consider these a disability. I don’t. My driver’s license said that I needed to wear glasses or contacts to drive, yet I could thread a needle or take out a splinter faster than anyone in my family. And when I did get glasses, my life changed. I remember in seventh grade, driving down Veteran’s Boulevard with my giant red frames perched on my nose. I could see from across the street that the Whopper Jr. came with fries! That Gremlins was playing at Sena theatre! that K&B had toilet paper on sale! I could read license plates and street names. At school I could read the chalkboard when I walked into the classroom and not just because I sat in the front row in alphabetical order. The best? I could actually see the volleyball before that vague spinning white shape slammed into my face and Coach Roth didn’t yell at me. Years later, as an active adult, I chose to have surgery to correct my vision.

At the International ADHD Conference this November, one of the sessions I attended kicked off by asking participants to secretly vote on whether or not they would get rid of their own ADHD forever, if they had the choice. At the end, the ballots had been counted, and overwhelmingly the majority had voted to keep their ADHD with all of the challenges that come with it. As of now, there is no magic operation to correct ADHD symptoms permanently, but do we really want that? Imagine what a boring world we would live in without those innovator brains and turbo thinkers! I, for one, am grateful.

Adela Baker, CACP, is the founder of Mind Coach NOLA, LLC. and a regular blogger for nola family. For more blogs, click here.

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