We expect our minds to develop in a very specific way. Most of the society is adapted for a typical developmental pattern, where a person starts as a child and continues to learn specific skills as they grow older and navigate to adulthood – skills and abilities that will give us what we need to be successful in the workplace and in life. Those that develop in this way are known as “neurotypical.”
But not everyone will develop those skills. Some people’s brains develop in different ways, with different skills or without the ones that are needed to manage life skills. This is known as “neurodivergence.”
Neurodivergence refers to variations in the human brain regarding sociability, learning, attention, mood, and other mental functions. It’s a concept that recognizes and respects a diversity of neurological experiences. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one such neurodivergent condition that affects a person’s behavior and cognitive functions.
Key Characteristics of ADHD as Neurodivergence
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by patterns of behavior that include inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. As with most neurodivergence, it is a lifelong condition. Some people may develop some of these skills as they get older, or they may learn to manage them, but they may not be “neurotypical.”
Common manifestations of ADHD include:
- Inattention – Difficulty sustaining focus, being easily distracted, overlooking details, and struggling to complete tasks or follow instructions.
- Hyperactivity – Excessive physical movement, restlessness, and difficulty sitting still for prolonged periods.
- Impulsivity – Acting without thinking about the consequences, interrupting others, and taking risks without considering potential outcomes.
People with ADHD also may develop what is known as executive function disorder. Executive functions are skills like time management, multitasking, the ability to respond to change, and more, that we are all expected to develop as we get older. If they don’t, as they often don’t with ADHD, then a person as executive function disorder.
ADHD can significantly affect various aspects of life, including academic performance, interpersonal relationships, and day-to-day functioning. However, it’s important to recognize that ADHD also comes with unique strengths. Many individuals with ADHD exhibit high levels of creativity, energy, and the ability to think outside the box. Being neurodivergent should not be considered a bad thing, or something that makes someone too different. It is only a mind that has developed differently.
Approaching ADHD in a Neurodiversity Framework
Understanding ADHD within the context of neurodiversity involves recognizing it as a part of the natural variation in human brains rather than a deficit. This perspective advocates for acceptance, support, and accommodations that allow individuals with ADHD to thrive.
Being neurodivergent, specifically with ADHD, means experiencing the world in a unique way. It is important to understand and appreciate these differences as part of the diverse spectrum of human neurology. Recognition, support, and appropriate interventions can enable individuals with ADHD to lead fulfilling and productive lives. If you or someone you know is navigating life with ADHD, seeking professional guidance can be a valuable step towards understanding and harnessing the potential of this neurodivergent condition.