ADHD Is a Disorder, Not a Gift
A number of popular books on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder argue it’s not a problem, but a gift that gives people with ADHD special abilities. But if ADHD is a gift then why are there so many negative social statistics about people with ADHD?
On average, adults with ADHD are more likely to be involved in serious car crashes, more likely to have unplanned pregnancies, more likely to abuse drugs and are less likely to hold down a job. If ADHD is such a gift, then it’s a gift a lot of people might be better off without.
The ADHD is a gift idea is based on a skewed perception of the ADHD population. As ADHD researcher Russell Barkley points out, most popular books and articles on adult ADHD focus on ADHD among well-educated, middle-class people with moderate levels of ADHD – just the sort of people who are likely to read books about ADHD and seek help. No doubt a high percentage of these people are clever or talented – but that doesn’t mean they have these qualities because they have ADHD. It could just be because they happen to be smart or talented people who come from relatively stable and successful families.
On the other side of the equation, there are many people from unstable, low-income backgrounds that have ADHD and are never formally diagnosed. In fact, some psychologists estimate over half of the prison population in the United States has add symptoms . This means there is a large section of the ADHD population who are really struggling to get by, but this group is rarely discussed in popular books about ADHD. This seriously dysfunctional side of the disorder is only really addressed in the academic literature on the subject.
There is also a smaller group of people with ADHD who are quiet under-achievers. These people usually have the inattentive form of ADHD, and more likely to be underemployed. They are also more likely to have depression or anxiety disorders, and are more live with their parents as adults. ADHD isn’t much of a gift for this group either. However, unassuming under-achievers with inattentive ADHD aren’t discussed much in books about ADHD since they don’t tend to draw attention to themselves and are less likely to seek help.
Those who claim that ADHD is a gift also argue that people with ADHD are highly creative. Here the truth is harder to know. In popular culture people who are highly creative do tend to have a reputation for being scattered and absent-minded. Since creative thoughts, like ADHD symptoms, tend to be associated with slower brain-wave states in certain parts of the brain, it is possible there is some overlap between creativity and ADHD. However, it’s important to remember there are many creative people who don’t have ADHD, so ADHD isn’t an essential requirement for creativity.
ADHD is a disorder which some people have and which may or not be a serious problem, depending on the skills and circumstances of the individual. It’s also important to remember that ADHD isn’t you, it’s something you have. Be proud of your positive traits and talents but don’t confuse them with your ADHD-related problems. Doing so will only make it more difficult to manage the disorder and assess your strengths and weaknesses in a realistic way.
A number of popular books on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder argue it’s not a problem, but a gift that gives people with ADHD special abilities. But if ADHD is a gift then why are there so many negative social statistics about people with ADHD? On average, adults with ADHD are more likely to be involved…