The inconvenient beauty of being different

Deficit. Disorder.

Two words I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable with in my thinking around ADHD of late.

I don’t have Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, but over the last several months I have had the opportunity to interview a number of experts on this unexpectedly contentious but endlessly intriguing topic.

I’ve spoken with award-winning authors, psychotherapists, advocates, psychologists, coaches, you name it — and with each conversation grown increasingly drawn to feel that the ‘deficit’ is more to do with how poorly set up we are as a society to accommodate the many gifts and challenges of the ADHD experience.

“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Matthew Kelly (Writer)

What if in years gone by those with ADHD were often the pioneers of our culture; the scouts of the tribe, those with the drive and energy to push beyond the norms of convention to explore new frontiers?

What if the likes of Thomas Edison, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Nikola Tesla were all in reality people with ADHD?

Just an opinion (controversial? Let me know in the comments), but it’s one I’ve enjoyed exploring over the last several months through speaking with, amongst others, the co-author of (2022 Business Book of the Year Award-winning) Neurodiversity at Work, Theo Smith; psychotherapist and ADHD coach Pippa Simou, neuro-inclusive design consultant Kim Allingham, and, most recently, Dr Tony Lloyd, CEO of the ADHD Foundation — the largest member-led ADHD agency in Europe.

Speaking with Dr Lloyd provided one of the richest and most illuminating, thought-provoking conversations I’ve had the privilege to share, on this or any topic. And so I thought it would be remiss of me to not also share it here with you.

We discuss everything from the relationship between diversity and creativity, to the possible origins of neurodivergence, as well as the shifting conversation on neurodiversity within industry and education today.

The more I explore this topic, the more I feel the experiences of those belonging to neurodiverse communities are laden with profound implications, both for those who may be neurologically atypical, and, perhaps, for everyone else as well. As Dr Lloyd puts it…

“I think our mission in life has got to be around understanding how we make this world a more inclusive place for everybody to be able to achieve their potential, contribute to their communities, and feel that they belong.”

Dr Tony Lloyd (CEO, ADHD Foundation)

For my part, I don’t think it can be said any better than that.


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