Is ADHD a gift or a disability? This question has been the topic of many discussions in the ADHD community.
Before I address this question, in typical ADHD fashion, I want to address a related question that I find more interesting. What feelings and actions follow when you have you have the thoughts: ADHD is a disability or ADHD is a gift?
If you are empowered to meet the challenges of having ADHD by either of these thoughts, then, by all means, stand firm in your beliefs.
If having either of these thoughts encourages you to draw on your strengths in order to meet your goals, then, please, incorporate them into your belief system.
My hope is that, whatever belief you decide to hold, you are able to do so in a way that is not dictated by black and white thinking. Those of us with ADHD can easily fall prey to this type of “either/or” thinking, if we are not mindful of all the conceivable nuances of our beliefs. I prefer to live and think in grey. Seeing the grey in this discussion led me to the conclusion that ADHD is neither a gift nor a disability.
Rather, the symptoms of ADHD may present themselves as opportunities or challenges. If the challenging symptoms are not appropriately addressed, then having ADHD can truly be disabling. Ironically, one way to meet the challenges of ADHD is to acknowledge and use a particular strength that can come from having ADHD, an opportunity.
On the other hand, at times, it is necessary to accept ADHD as a disability. In order to create a level playing field for adults and children with ADHD to reach their full potential, it is sometime necessary to have accommodations. The reality is that, in educational and work settings, this is often only possible through the application of relevant laws relating to people with disabilities. In this context, ADHD is a disability.
Unless the context is receiving necessary and deserved accommodations, I prefer not see ADHD as a disability or a gift. The experience of having ADHD is different for everyone, and is dependent how the traits associated with ADHD manifest themselves.
Life with ADHD is too full of nuances and shades of grey to categorize ADHD in an “either or” manner.