I was recently reading a piece in ADDitude magazine by Yale Professor Thomas Brown expounding on his rather conventional views of ADHD as a developmental disorder (yawn) when I was stopped dead in my tracks. Here’s what he said:
Often the most problematic period is during junior high, high school, and the first few years of college. That is the time when the individual faces the widest range of challenging activities without opportunity to escape from the ones in which they have little interest or ability. After that period, some with ADHD are fortunate enough to find a job and a life situation in which they can build on their strengths and work around their cognitive weaknesses.
In other words, career and life offer opportunities to build on strengths and work around weaknesses, but school insists a child downplay strengths and concentrate on weaknesses. Work allows for and even demands people who are great at certain things but fall short at others, but school demands people who are competent at a wide range of activities. And here I thought school was supposed to be preparing kids for life! Silly me.
Given that school is much less tolerant of ADHD than the workplace, perhaps the “disorder” does not reside with the ADHD child but resides with the school. Perhaps a new diagnosis of school is in order: Institutional Maladaptive Disorder. Perhaps the school needs the medication, not the child.