“ADHD isn’t a problem. It’s not something that needs to be “fixed.” The same way that an anxiety diagnosis or a PTSD diagnosis simply describe how your brain works, an ADHD diagnosis is a tool to help understand how your brain or your child’s brain is programmed.” -Ally Bayard, LPC-S
Over 6 million children were diagnosed with ADHD this year in the United States. This number has steadily and drastically increased over the last decade. ADHD is a very familiar phrase, often used colloquially to describe a lapse of thought or high levels of energy. Attention deficit/Hyperactivity disorder often carries a negative connotation, assumed to describe a person who is impulsive, lacking thought, unable to follow through on tasks, or a disruptive child in a classroom.
Many symptoms of ADHD are challenging; marked by symptoms of forgetfulness, inattentiveness, hyperactivity, difficulty completing tasks, impatience and high levels of physical activity. Children and adults who are diagnosed with ADHD often struggle to meet classroom or workplace expectations of compliance, quietness and prolonged attention.
My challenge to parents, teachers, school administrators, coaches (and pretty much anyone who will listen) is how can we channel this for good? Because ADHD isn’t a problem. It’s not something that needs to be “fixed.” The same way that an anxiety diagnosis or a PTSD diagnosis simply describe how your brain works, an ADHD diagnosis is a tool to help understand how your brain or your child’s brain is programmed. So how can we leverage that programming for success?
The first step to leveraging ADHD for success in school, success in work, and success in a family system is to identify the (sometimes hidden) strengths. Here are 7 of my favorites:
- Advanced social skills
- Problem solving skills
If you read that list without knowing the topic or name of the article, it looks like a list of qualifications on a job posting for CEO of a company. That is what I love about an ADHD diagnosis… that while there are many challenges to managing ADHD, with some skills and some support ADHD can be the part of an individual that brings out their true and authentic self. Individuals with ADHD are statistically more creative and are able to solve problems in ways that are out-of-the box, innovative, and advanced. A brain with ADHD tendencies has the capacity to hyper-focus, allowing individuals to excel at work or in subject areas of interest. Individuals with ADHD are highly successful in entertainment, politics and sales fields due to energetic charisma and “people skills.”
Because of structures in place both at work and at school, ADHD symptoms aren’t always celebrated. Even school administrators can show signs of frustration with individuals who have this diagnosis, instead of seeking to support their unique strengths. So join me as we strive for better. This October, during ADHD awareness month, join me in learning and celebrating the unique strengths of ADHD!