Is ADHD a disability?

I was at a conference with Dr. Russell Barkley when he insisted that ADHD is a disability and that to see it as anything but is a mistake. As a coach who works with Creative Geniuses, my tendency is to look for and find the diamond in the rough in my clients.  I’m less likely to work only on the challenges, but really emphasize more on the strengths and talents of my clients.  These are often unexplored or undeveloped in my ADHD clients.

This, of course, is not to say that ADHDers are not severely challenged at times by their ADHD that need to be addressed well enough, so that they are not an impediment to living your best life. I live with two adults with ADHD and it is a challenge for all of us at times.

What do you think? Is ADHD a disability?

2 thoughts on “Is ADHD a disability?”

  1. Hello,
    I must admit, sadly, that ADHD disables people much more than it enables them.
    ADHD is improperly defined by DSM-IV and the World Health Organization and this leads a majority of people to apply the “lazy” label. In addition, Mental Health Practitioners, most importantly Psychiatrists, tend to become so wrapped up with symptoms such as depression, anxiety, hyper-sensitivity etc. that they never actually treat the patient.

    ADHD doesn’t really exist as it is defined. ADHD is a lowered threshold for the toleration of distraction. This may sounds the same but it is not.
    The only thing that I and many others suffer from, at the root, is a frustratingly unknown receptor in the front lobe… Current research, having not found the exact location, has not revealed whether the receptor is directly stimulated, or by a chain of transports.
    The worst issue I face is that they cannot say whether the receptor is damaged, it is suffering from local blockade OR if it works fine but transports the incorrect output or TO the incorrect inputs.

    It isn’t broken. At least that’s obvious. What I do know is that because the ADHD sufferer cannot focus on anything for long enough, they are not competent to apply for many different jobs even though intelligence is, almost always, considerably higher than normal.
    However, intelligence is not much use since it combines with hyper-active issues such as excessive talking and hyper-sensitivity to ruin relationships… and the inability to follow through on tasks at work.

    It’s really fantastic and it’s hell too.

    1. Thanks for your comments Eric. You’re right that ADHDers really struggle and I believe it definitely exists even if the exact nature of the problem is not precise. What I do know that makes a great amount of difference is that ADHDers can focus… the problem is more a question of having difficulty with choosing on what to focus. While they want to do that important paperwork, if it does not stimulate their minds, they won’t get it done. The paradigm of ADHD is that sufferes can pay attention and even hyper-attention (at the expense of all other things), what we call hyperfocus, when the object of their focus is either interesting, competitive (for some), novel, or urgent.

      What this tells us is that the choice of career will make an incredible difference. Choose a career that you are passionate about and you will struggle less as long as you can focus on your strengths and interest and find systems or delegate those things you aren’t quite so good with.

      Don’t give up and focus on your strengths instead of your weaknesses. You want to manage those well enough so they are not longer impeding on your passions and strengths.

      Live long and prosper!


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