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ADHD Symptoms Can Get A Little Blurry

Posted Jan 07 2009 3:05pm

“When do you feel ’symptoms’ cross the line
from ‘that’s how I am’ to a ‘disorder?”

A new friend recently asked me this question, and it really got me thinking.  I’ve always shared with people that I’m NOT a fan of labels, and that I think we need to focus more on behaviors than symptoms.  But I don’t know if I have ever entertained the question of when we cross the line from behaviors to symptoms to “self” to disorder…

To me, it doesn’t really matter what you are struggling with in life, as long as you have the resources, strategies, and supports in place to deal with it all.  I just think humans were intended to be different, and it is those differences which bring about change, innovation, and advancement in life.

What a boring world it would be if there were no differences…  No people with ADHD, no learning “disorders”…

How do I answer this question?

Having conducted evaluations for students looking to receive accommodations at school, I quickly lost faith in the term disorders.  Most raw data is where the labels come from, but it is the interpretation of those results that lead to my view of how every child can flourish.

Learning disabilities suggest that someone does better in one area than in another.  That’s it–but too many of us take the approach that “something is wrong!”  For instance, some people are more verbal while others are more non-verbal.  That’s just the way it is!  We call it a disability or disorder because we seem to believe that everyone should be good across the board.  I disagree…

There is always something else going on…  Something else contributing to how we process information and give it back to the world.

Disabilities tend to get in the way when people or organizations are inflexible with their expectations and rules.  The world is NOT as rigid as we have made it.

Yes — people struggle.  I’ll never suggest otherwise.  And I do firmly believe in providing accommodations if that is what an individual needs to succeed.  There is NOTHING wrong with that.  But I do however have a problem (and will continue to do so) with any individual, organization, system, or group who self-selects and categorizes people based on individual preference!

What Do You Think?

We’d love to hear from you. Go ahead and give us your thoughts in the comments below.

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