Jen Brown, LICSW
ADHD and Dyslexia Awareness Month
October marks both ADHD Awareness and Dyslexia Awareness Month, a time for greater awareness and recognition of ADHDers, dyslexics, and other neurodivergent people.
While Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has historically been viewed through a pathologizing lens and is often inaccurately used in everyday conversation - “I’m so ADHD” - ADHDers have significant strengths, including creativity, capacity for deep emotional connection, and the ability to “hyperfocus” and dig deep into specific areas of interest. What folks with ADHD often struggle with are things like executive functioning skills (e.g. working memory), perception of time, emotional regulation, and deeply rooted feelings of shame and unworthiness when comparing themselves to neurotypical peers or standards. Dyslexia, which is often perceived as a reading-based issue that only occurs during one’s school aged years and goes away over time, is widely misunderstood. According to Made By Dyslexia, an organization by and for dyslexics that reconceptualizes the condition, “dyslexia impacts up to 1 in 5 people and is a genetic difference in an individual’s ability to learn and process information. As a result, dyslexic individuals have differing abilities, with strengths in creative, problem-solving and communication skills and challenges with spelling, reading and memorizing facts.” Common misconceptions of both ADHD and dyslexia (e.g., that ADHDers are lazy and that having dyslexia is a sign of lower intelligence) are harmful and inaccurate. Rather, ADHD, dyslexia and other forms of neurodivergence can instead be understood as ways in which the brain processes information differently from neurotypical people. Here are some ways to continue learning about ADHD, dyslexia, and other forms of neurodivergence this month and beyond:
Follow accounts, books, and resources created by and for ADHDers and dyslexics, like:
How to ADHD (YouTube channel) has lots of great hacks on coping with some of the challenges of ADHD and ways to amplify the strengths of ADHDers
Dani Donovan’s ADHD site and social media has excellent content, including comics, TikToks, and resources that illuminate what living with ADHD is like.
ADHD 2.0, a recent book by Drs. Ed Hallowell and John Ratey, both ADHDers themselves, introduces a new perspective on ADHD that reframes ADHD as VAST, or Variable Attention Stimulation Trait.
Made By Dyslexia, an organization by and for dyslexics that reconceptualizes dyslexia, has a good vodcast (video podcast) series called The D Spot
Dyslexic Advantage offers a wealth of resources including accessibility tools, suggestions, and resources for dyslexics, educators, and employers.
ADHD presents differently with factors like gender, race, etc. and is often mis- or underdiagnosed in cisgender women, nonbinary people, and gender expansive people. Some specific resources on how gender impacts ADHD include:
Divergent Mind: Thriving in A World That Wasn't Designed For You by Jenara Nerenberg - has great content on neurodivergent women and ways that ADHD, autism, and other neurodivergent traits vary by gender.
Books by Sari Solden, who has written extensively on ADHD in women and girls:A Radical Guide for Women with ADHD: Embrace Neurodiversity, Live Boldly, and Break Through Barriers; Women with Attention Deficit Disorder
The ADHD Homestead and book Order from Chaos: The Everyday Grind of Staying Organized with Adult ADHD by ADHDer Jaclyn Paul are full of practical tips on recognizing and managing ADHD.
Articles on ADHD in women and girls: Atlantic article and Washington Post article
The need for accommodations at work and school are real and valid concerns for many neurodivergent people. Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is an excellent resource to look into accommodations that you or a loved one may need in order to fully thrive.
Jen Brown, LICSW is a licensed independent clinical social worker who has been in clinical practice since 2014. She received her MSW and Certificate in Urban Leadership in clinical social work from Simmons University School of Social Work. She has worked in outpatient mental health and integrative settings in community health centers, college mental health, and in affordable housing. Jen has experience working with depression and other mood disorders, anxiety, trauma/PTSD, substance use and addiction, ADHD, identity shifts/adjustment issues, chronic illness, body image concerns, and relationship issues.
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