It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Fun*Run Time

It's ALREADY that time of year again: The ADAPT Fun*Run for Disability Rights is April 22nd 2012. Maryland's fundraising goal is $8,000 this year. Yes, that's right, $8,000

Donate $1! Donate $10! Donate $100! Donate $1,000! JUST DONATE so we can FREE OUR PEOPLE! I thank you very much for your support!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

It's an Asset?

About 6 weeks ago I posted an entry Mental Illness: Illness or Chronic Condition? I'd like to quote the end of that post:

Let people feel good about having a few screws loose in their head. There's nothing wrong with that. Teach them that there are positives to their condition. There have been some very famous people who were never the perfect picture of mental health.

Well, through alltop and then a click on someone's blog I ended up surfing the health section of for a bit and came across this great article, A New Face for ADHD, and a Debate. I'm very happy to report that some people get it.

Children with the disorder typically have trouble sitting still and paying attention. But they may also have boundless energy and a laserlike focus on favorite things — qualities that could be very helpful in, say, an Olympic athlete.

For that reason, some doctors are pushing for a new view that focuses on the potential strengths of the disorder. Dr. Edward M. Hallowell, a psychiatrist and author whose books include “Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping With Attention Deficit Disorder From Childhood Through Adulthood” (Touchstone, 1995), says the current “deficit-based medical model” of the disorder results in low-self esteem.

“It’s not an unmitigated blessing, but neither is it an unmitigated curse, which is usually the way it’s presented,” said Dr. Hallowell, who has the disorder himself. “I have been treating this condition for 25 years and I know that if you manage it right, this apparent deficit can become an asset. I think of it as a trait and not a disability.”

The notion that a disability can be harnessed in a positive way is not a new concept...

Dr. Hallowell says low-self esteem and low expectations result from the way the A.D.H.D. diagnosis is presented to children, parents and teachers. He tells children with attention deficit that they have the brain of a race car, and he wants to work with them to build better brakes.

“We want to tell children, ‘You’ve got a difference, but not a disease,’ ” [emphasis added] he said. “Michael Phelps is one of any thousands of examples of mega-successful people, C.E.O.s and brain surgeons and famous writers, inventors and entrepreneurs, who have A.D.H.D.”

Other people apparently haven't hopped on the bandwagon quite yet.

“This reframing A.D.H.D. as a gift, personally I don’t think it’s helpful,” said Natalie Knochenhauer, founder of A.D.H.D. Aware, an advocacy group in Doylestown, Pa. “You can’t have a disability that needs to be accommodated in the classroom, and also have this special gift. There are a lot of people out there — not only do their kids not have gifts, but their kids are really struggling.” [emphasis added]

Ms. Knochenhauer, who has four children with the disorder, says they too were inspired by the astonishing performance of Mr. Phelps in Beijing. But she added, “I would argue that Michael Phelps is a great swimmer with A.D.H.D., but he’s not a great swimmer because he has A.D.H.D.”

Dr. Koplewicz, of N.Y.U., agreed. “There are lots of children in the world who have chronic illnesses or disorders like diabetes, allergies or dyslexia who accomplish great things in spite of the fact that they have these disorders,” he said. “I worry when we say A.D.H.D. is a gift, that this minimizes how real it is.”

I can go off more with my position on this debate, but I'd rather not. I'm more interested in what you think. Can you have a disability and a gift (ADHD and a bigillion olympic gold medals like Michael Phelps), as Dr. Koplewicz presents? Can your disability be your gift, as Dr. Hallowell presents? Or, as Ms. Knochenhauer presents, are both of those notions completely impossible? Maybe I'm preaching to the choir here at disaboom. I don't know...

Ok, I lied, I am going to comment ever so briefly. I feel bad for Ms Knochenhauer's kids...


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