ADD/ADHD and Other Misunderstood Gifts

Let’s talk about learning differences like ADD/ADHD and other supposed learning/mental disabilities for a bit here. What if they aren’t really disabilities, but gifts that are twisted by improper handling?

You can’t raise a beautiful orchid in the middle of a corn field. As a matter of fact, it’s hard to raise anything but corn in a common monoculture cornfield. God created the world with a huge array of diversity, but man is compelled to simplify. And in simplifying he rejects anything that doesn’t fit into his narrow purpose. That pressure to be a stalk of corn out of the fear of rejection twists and damages our most precious possessions, our kids.

As a child, I was diagnosed with ADD and put on Dexedrine (the precursor of Ritalin and Adderall). To be quite honest, I now believe that most of my problems were due to severe undiagnosed asthma and the raging sinus infection that fed it, but even though those things are mostly under control, I still fit the profile of ADD. Because of that diagnosis, I have followed news on ADD and ADHD through the years.

Early in the 90’s I ran across an article in Times magazine (I wish I still had it), about a study that followed 200 boys who were diagnosed with ADHD and 200 “normal” boys for 20 years. The numbers looked bad. We were less likely to have good grades and less likely to be involved in professions that required a lot of formal education such as doctors or lawyers. We were also more likely to be involved in drug use … BUT one statistic caught my attention! 18% of us as compared to only 5% of the normal population were self-employed. Later I ran across a similar study in which 16% of children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD as compared with 4% of the “normal” population were self-employed. Then, the mother of a little boy that I was babysitting had her child tested for ADHD in Iowa City. The diagnosis was positive and she brought me a list they had given her of positive traits of people with ADD/ADHD. Every single one of the traits listed was a leadership quality!

What if ADD/ADHD is actually a leadership gift? It’s no wonder we don’t function well in school. Have you ever had a day when you had too much to do? You get irritated, don’t you? Imagine knowing deep down inside that YOU are supposed to be the boss and having to go to a place where there are 20-30 kids your age in the room. You spend your whole day, every day trying to keep track of what everyone is doing. You can’t control a thing, and at 3, 4 or 5 you certainly don’t have the social skills to even begin to do what you know you are supposed to do? You would be a little bit crabby, wouldn’t you? ADD kids shut down. ADHD kids act out.

Leaders learn to be leaders by spending time with leaders. The structure of the family is the best place for a leader to grow because it has a natural leadership hierarchy – parents, older siblings and younger siblings. The biggest reason the occurrences of ADD and ADHD diagnoses have skyrocketed is because we keep pushing our kids into unnatural school settings earlier and earlier and at the same time, with two parents working, children have less and less contact with adults even at home.

What if our school systems are crushing our most promising leaders? If you google “self-employment statistics for ADD/ADHD” you will find all kinds of articles that support my assertion that ADD/ADHD is actually a leadership gift. That’s why when people pull their ADD/ADHD kids from the regular school system, they often find that medication is not even necessary.

I don’t have statistics on other so-called “disabilities”, but I’ve heard that autism is basically someone who is extremely sensitive to outside stimuli. Possibly a superpower that needs to be cultivated in a greenhouse instead of a cornfield? Ask Temple Grandin. Bi-polar? Maybe a similar situation? Could those who hear voices and see visions be extra sensitive to the spiritual world and not crazy? Let’s quit trying to “solve these problems” by forcing our gifted children into cornfields!

God Bless You All!

~ Grama Sue