ADHD and what it tells us about society
- · Has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities (e.g., has difficulty remaining focused during lectures, conversations, or lengthy reading).
- · Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly (e.g., mind seems elsewhere, even in the absence of any obvious distraction).
- · Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace
- · Is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli (for older adolescents and adults, may include unrelated thoughts).
- · Fidgets with or taps hands or feet or squirms in seat.
- · Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected
- · Often talks excessively.
- · Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed (e.g., completes people’s sentences; cannot wait for turn in conversation).
- · Often has difficulty waiting his or her turn (e.g., while waiting in line).
- · Often interrupts or intrudes on others
I've described autism as a way of being; a mix of disability and exceptionality. Others may take issue, but I see ADHD the same. For those of us who grow up this way, it's how we are; not a broken state that needs repair even if medications do help some of us function better.
Another way to look at this would be to ask how many people would ask for help for ADHD on their own, as opposed to "getting helped" by adults who watch them. In my family we go both ways as regards embracing or declining ADHD meds, and I am sure lots of others feel the same.
Another likely issue is that there is considerable shame in being diagnosed with a disability in our society. Most kids outgrow their ADHD diagnoses to the extent that they do not need support services as adults. Many ADHD kids are happy to leave that part of their childhood behind; feeling no need to engage in advocacy for the community as adults. Autism, as a lifelong disability for many, encourages adult advocacy.
John Elder Robison is an autistic adult and advocate for people with neurological differences. He's the author of Look Me in the Eye, Be Different, Raising Cubby, and Switched On. He serves on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee of the US Dept of Health and Human Services. He's co-founder of the TCS Auto Program (A school for teens with developmental challenges) and he’s the Neurodiversity Scholar at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. He's also a visiting professor of practice at Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Massachusetts and advisor to the Neurodiversity Institute at Landmark College in Putney, Vermont.