Many teens who have just graduated from high school or college say the same thing: "Now what?"
They are uncertain about the next step to take, continuing their education or finding a job. For young adults with ADHD who have a job, and feel that it doesn't suit them, a career path seems dim. They don't know which job might make them happy, and they don't ask for help and accommodations at the job they're in. They are afraid to disclose their ADHD for fear of stigma or even of being fired.
David Mucha, a 22-year-old from Queensbury, New York, was formally diagnosed with ADHD at 21. "In college and beyond, there was a negative vibe when I asked for help. I felt that people wondered, 'Do you really need help, or are you asking because you have a doctor's note that says you do?'"
There is Hope
Now there's a new approach to career training for young ADHD adults — an environment where they don't have to apologize for their diagnosis or beg for accommodations they need. It's called InventiveLabs, started by serial entrepreneurs Tom Bergeron and Rick Fiery. Both know about kids and adults with ADHD and LD because both have friends and family members who were diagnosed with the conditions. Bergeron thought, "Why don't we form a center that takes bright, creative kids who have ADHD and dyslexia and give them the tools they need to turn their creative ideas into new products?"
The venture gives young adults (post-high-school age) who have struggled in school or the workplace the chance to define and pursue their goals. There are goal-specific academic courses to help young adults get the post-secondary education they need to pursue a dream career. There is help with launching a new business or acquiring skills needed to excel in the corporate world. No matter what the person's goal, InventiveLabs' strength-based programs tackle ADHD and LD symptoms head-on and develop the strategies needed to overcome them.
Located in Amesbury, Massachusetts, InventiveLabs was conceived as a business incubator. Its mission is to "capture the brilliance of individuals with ADHD and/or dyslexia who think and work differently." The program combines hands-on entrepreneurial experience with academic courses — provided on-site by Northshore Community College — tailored to each student's objectives.
The inaugural program, which started in October 2014, attracted applicants from Australia, South Africa, Europe, and Guatemala, with the majority of applicants living in the northeastern United States. Bergeron and Fiery selected teens and young adults who would make a well-rounded, diverse team. Some have college degrees, others work experience, and some have both. Participants follow their passions, working on projects such as designing their own line of beachwear, creating a more efficient wood stove, and developing cellphone apps.
Some Inventives — the 16 program participants — started with a business project in mind. Some, like many with ADHD, had work experience, but hadn't found a career path. InventiveLabs' goal is to help participants find what they'd enjoy pursuing. Some will leave the one- or two-year program with their own business, others might join a corporation or license out a new technology.