Every October is ADHD Awareness Month. The observance is global, since ADHD is no respecter of nationalities or races or cultures. Events are scheduled throughout the US as well as in Canada, Denmark, Sweden, the UK, and elsewhere. There is an event scheduled for October 9 in Warrenton, VA. That’s one that my husband Neil and I have organized in coordination with Lord Fairfax Community College. Details are here.

The annual observance was established to increase awareness of the facts about ADHD (it is a real, brain-based condition), correct misconceptions (such as that it is caused by poor parenting), and to put a spotlight on the positive aspects of ADHD (ADDers can be creative, intuitive, spontaneous, entertaining, passionate, etc.).

In addition to being an observance, this month can also be thought of as a celebration. It might seem peculiar to have a celebration for something thought of primarily as an affliction, but even though life can be challenging for those born with the ADHD type of brain, and even though most people who haven’t been educated about ADHD do see it on the whole as an affliction, the news about ADHD is far from completely negative. I hope to post a great deal of positive news about ADHD during this special month.

To celebrate is to honor, and there are lots of ADDers past and present who deserve to be honored for what they have achieved not only in spite of, but perhaps also because of, their ADHD. Based on the historical record of their behaviors and achievements, many influential people are believed to have had ADHD: Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw, are just a few. The recent PBS series on the Roosevelts suggested that Theodore had ADHD. (The historian Patricia O’Toole said that TR’s energy and activity level were so high that had he been a boy today, he might have been given Ritalin.)

Thomas Edison only attended public schools for a total of twelve weeks. He was seen as hyperactive, prone to distraction, and generally difficult. His school teacher mother removed him from the environment that viewed her son so negatively, and she became his teacher. He had a voracious appetite for knowledge and thrived in the wide-open educational environment created by his mother. (Click here.) I wonder how much further our world might have progressed had all kids with ADHD (hyperactive as well as inattentive) been educated in the direction of their strengths rather than forced into a hole designed for neurotypical children.

I’m hoping that one outcome of this October’s ADHD Awareness Month is greater understanding and appreciation of the positive aspects of the neurodiversity found in our schools (not only in ADHD kids, but also in kids tagged with other labels). A focus on strengths will result in healthier, happier, students and ultimately a healthier, happier world!

Stay tuned for a post tomorrow about some contemporary famous folks who have spoken up about their own ADHD.

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