“In my opinion, ADHD is a terrible term. As I see it, ADHD is neither a disorder, nor is there a deficit of attention. I see ADHD as a trait, not a disability. When it is managed properly, it can become a huge asset in one’s life.”
Those are the words of world-renowned, Harvard-educated ADHD specialist and psychiatrist Ned Hallowell. He also happens to have ADHD and dyslexia.
Like Hallowell, I too not only have ADHD and a learning disability (dysgraphia) but view ADHD not as a disability but an amazing ability that needs to be cultivated through hope, empowerment and treatment.
In fact, I have spent the past school year speaking at various special education PTAs (SEPTAs) and leading ADHD organizations discussing with our local communities and parents about how and why we should be empowering children, students and adults who live with this amazing, fast, yet sometimes difficult to manage ability and brain.
Below, I have outlined some simple ways, steps and reasons why we should be empowering, embracing and encouraging communities to accommodate those with ADHD.
Why: Better Economy, Better Business
Those living with ADHD have an amazing, fast, creative brain. They can think on their feet and often come up with some amazing outside-of-the-box ideas. It’s not a coincidence that many of the top businessmen and entrepreneurs have ADHD including: billionaire Richard Branson, JetBlue founder David Neeleman and Kinkos founder Paul Orfalea.
We need to find a way to encourage these creative thinkers, while they are in school and in college, and find a way to work with our local businesses, corporations, government and elected officials to help find appropriate and meaningful work and jobs for those with ADHD. This would empower students and adults, create new jobs and hopefully spur our local economies as we would be attracting new business with potential employees (those with ADHD).
As I stated above we need to be working with our local officials and businesses to create some form of internship or apprenticeship programs that will match those with ADHD with prospective employers where they can learn valuable work skills, while being able to utilize their amazing creative ADHD mind.
In fact, while it may seem like an odd example, we should follow the lead of the entertainment industry, which offers tax breaks and incentives to film companies to shoot in their community spurring job employment, investment and creating awareness of the community they are filming in.
Why not provide tax breaks and incentives to local businesses and corporations hiring those with ADHD and even a learning disability?
And those who think a model like this can’t work need not be discouraged. All you have to do is Google Tom D’Eri, who opened Rising Tide Car Wash after his 22-year-old son with autism was nearing the end of his disability payments.
Rising Tide Car Wash currently employs 25 people on the spectrum (80 percent of its employees) while providing a job that engages the autistic mind with its repetitive and detailed work. This is just one example and there are many more. Wouldn’t it be great if we can do this right now, right here in Nassau County?
I think so.
Scott Darren Schachter is mental health & educational professional & advocate. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.