“What Happened When I Replaced ‘ADHD’ with ‘ADDED’.”
“These are our characteristics: added distractions; added imagination; added energy, inventiveness, irritability, impulsiveness, creativity… Other people are less likely to have them. That doesn’t make them better or worse; it makes them different. We are not deficient; we are ADDED!”
I have a deficit. Or so I’m told. It’s a deficit of attention. Except we all know it isn’t, right?
What I, and many of you, actually have is an overwhelming abundance of attention — to every detail, regardless of whether it should actually occupy our minds. Details storm and attack our brains, which definitely creates problems — but no deficit.
I should argue that “disorder” is all wrong, too. It means disruption, flaw, affliction; it means wrong, or not-as-it-should-be. I beg to differ.
I have ADHD, and I don’t feel I’m not-as-I-should-be. However, I definitely feel different from people who don’t have ADHD. This neurological difference affects every aspect of life, and while it brings positives and negatives, ADHD isn’t good or bad in itself. Over the years, I have learned my strengths and weaknesses, and I have adopted ways of life that favor my strengths.
A better life with ADHD begins with changing our own perceptions. Rather than see ourselves as flawed, we must embrace our uniqueness – advantages and disadvantages alike.
People with ADHD are creative. We have wide imaginations and a tendency toward entrepreneurship. At the same time, we find it hard to maintain focus on one idea for long; we jump between ideas – which is a characteristic of inventive thinking. We lack the patience to follow tedious, orderly thinking patterns. Instead, we come up with new, innovative ways of thinking.
These are our ADDED characteristics: added distractions; added imagination; added energy, inventiveness, irritability, impulsiveness, creativity… Other people are less likely to have them. That doesn’t make them better or worse; it makes them different. We are not deficient; we are ADDED!
Why Label People?
Then again, rather than replace the negative label “ADHD” with the positive “ADDED,” why not give up labeling altogether, and just let everyone be themselves?
This sounds like a wonderful approach. But, in reality, things are very different – especially in school settings, where ADDED pupils are too often made to feel different and lesser than others. A society that is truly open to variety and diversity really has no need for labels — it encourages people to exist as they are outside of groups, subgroups, intersections and unions.
Until our society gets there, however, refraining from labeling would merely mean that ADDED people would feel their difference, but lack a name and explanation for it. They would not understand why they fight so hard for seemingly simple things only to end up feeling like failures. Labeling or naming, therefore, is important; it simply needn’t be negative.
An ADDED Wonderland
When we change our perceptions, we also change the demands we place upon ourselves.
Schools and workplaces may not change their demands so easily, but we may well acknowledge the fact that differences are a blessing. A homogenous society is definitely inferior to a diverse one, which benefits from a multitude of viewpoints, ways of thinking, skills, gifts, sensitivities, challenges, and difficulties. The more varied a society, the more complex it is — and the more unique, innovative, and creative.
Adopting this view led me to shed damaging social conceptions that stood in the way of a life suited to who I am. It led me to rebuild my life to work with me, rather than against me. So much so that I embarked on a new career, writing a book – an ADHD fantasy fiction that takes place in an ADDED wonderland.
I wonder: Where might this view lead you, or your child?
Change Perceptions: Next Steps
- Blog: Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life
- Read: ADHD Needs a Better Name. We Have One.
- Download: Unraveling the Mysteries of Your ADHD Brain
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