The “D” Word

Beloved ADHD friend,

A lot of us struggle with the "D" word.

It’s the unwelcome subtext lurking in the background of a lot of conversations I have with people who are juuuussst beginning to come to terms with their ADHD.

And what I’m trying to do, in those conversations, is bring it into the foreground, to offer it a comfy chair and a beverage. And say “Hey! Hello! Welcome! You have value here.”

What’s the “D” word?

Disability.

Did you know ADHD is classified as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act?

ADHD brains are often disabled in neurotypical environments.

BUT, you should also know, neurotypical brains are often disabled in neurodivergent environments!!

Here’s an example:

My friend and colleague Meg Taylor (who is an unbelievable ADHD coach btw) was telling me about a support group she runs for ADHDers and their parents.

Often one of the parents is neurodivergent. And one is neurotypical. And obviously the kids are all ADHD So this group is majority neurodivergent with some neurotypical people mixed in.

And guess what? The ADHD people talk elliptically and tangentially, have big emotional swings, wiggle and squirm around, open fifty tabs at once in their brains, interrupt each other, blurt things out, and just generally are themselves, as Meg holds space for it all.

And many of the neurotypical people really struggle with that.

“Can we get back to the subject at hand?”
“I feel like we’re off track again.”
“I’m having trouble following.”
“Does this even have anything to do with (topic X)?”

So you see, the disability isn’t about ADHD brains being lesser. (Just like physical disabilities aren’t about people being lesser.)

The thing that is DISABLING is that our culture, our institutions, our societal expectations are generally designed to fit neurotypical brains. Neurotypical is the model, and we don’t fit it.

If it’s too big a leap for you right now to think of yourself as “disabled,” I get it.

But I do encourage you to understand that some of your ADHD traits are disabling, simply because they do not align with the expectations of this culture. And maybe your expectations for yourself!

And I also encourage you, if you haven’t already, to get some ADHD friends. And experience the delirious joy of being with people who instinctively get you.

Sending you a big hug,
Emma

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