Listen you youngsters you, when I was your age we didn’t have any such thing as ADHD.
We had Minimal Brain Dysfunction, but it was almost never diagnosed.
And even if it was, nobody did anything about it.
There were no accommodations, no medications, and very little tolerance.
Here’s a little problem …
The people who are in positions of authority tend to be older. They’ve worked their way up over time, and legitimately so.
And some of them have been amassing guidelines and knowledge bases of their own. And some of that knowledge they’ve accumulated is old and outdated.
And some of it is about … well, us.
Yes, I know. Treating us like we’re purposely doing what ADHD causes us to do (or not do) is broken, and yes, to some extent it is illegal.
We’re not all keen on the word disability, but we certainly have altered abilities when compared to the neuro-typicals, yeah?
And that means that we need to find ways in which we can satisfy the requirements of our schooling or employment. And sometimes we need a little help and consideration to do that. That’s called accommodations.
When I was a child I remember that every year in school I would have a different teacher. And none of these teachers had heard of ADHD back then, no one had. It didn’t exist as a defined set of diagnosable symptoms.
Every year a new teacher and every other year the teacher would be determined to fix me and force me to conform.
What they didn’t realize was that I couldn’t be fixed with the tools they had. It was the equivalent of fixing a computer with a socket set.
And the years in between?
Ah, the good years. For some reason, some teachers realized that the goal was not to have me conform, not have me do the work exactly the same as everyone else, but do the work in a way that worked for me and yet got the job done.
How simple was that? And yet, how effective it was. And how I admired and trusted those teachers.
Is it better now?
Admittedly there are some archaic ideas still out there. and even some of our own people hold on to those ideas.
And there are teachers and managers, bosses and others in positions of authority who are living in the dark ages with their misguided knowledge of ADHD.
But, is it better than it was?
There are people who are the counterparts of the teachers I admired while I was a student, and now they are armed with information. There are teachers who would maybe have been in the other group way back then, but they too are armed with info and better informed than those others were, and they have little choice but to acknowledge our disorder.
Yes there are teachers who still refuse to admit that this cannot be “knocked out” of us, but they are in a dwindling minority.
And at work?
Not everywhere yet, but in more and more places people are starting to realize that folks with ADHD can be as productive as anyone with the right accommodations.
And now they are also starting to realize that we have skills that actually make us better at filling some of the gaps in the skill sets of groups of employees, making an organization’s work force much more capable and competent when it is a mix of humanity that includes our people.
And when I was your age, I dreamed of a time when I would fit in.
Welcome to the time when my dreams are coming true.