Recently I had the great pleasure of attending a conference in Liverpool, England sponsored by the ADHD Foundation, Britain’s leading organization dedicated to neurodiversity, which of course includes ADHD and dyslexia, both of which I have myself.
I was thrilled to see the enormous progress the Brits have made on this front. Not too long ago the “moral model” still prevailed there, in which children and adults who had ADHD were told to try harder, be more disciplined, and basically to suck it up.
Now, under the dynamic leadership of Tony Lloyd and the great team he’s put together, the foundation offers screening, testing, and treatment, as well as massive public education, symbolized by the Umbrella campaign. Children wrote their strengths onto umbrellas—red, blue, orange, green and purple umbrellas—and the symbol caught on so well that in Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport in London there is a section where you can see dozens of these colorful umbrellas hanging from the rafters, celebrating the progress and joy created by the ADHD Foundation and all the participants who’ve joined in.
It’s a beautiful sight, bright colors, bearing bright messages of hope, progress, and a new era in helping the neurodiverse population in the U.K. These (we) are the people who have changed the world for the better since the dawn of time. DaVinci seems to have had it, as do Mozart and Thomas Edison. We neurodiverse people are the ones who come up with the game changing ideas and the ideas that take the world to its next level. For too long we’ve been misunderstood and stigmatized.
But the new era is upon us at last.
At last this group of the world’s population is finding understanding and credit, validation and well-deserved admiration from the rest of the population who, for centuries, did not appreciate the amazing gifts wrapped inside the minds of this diverse group.
It was wonderful to look up and see these multi-colored umbrellas, hanging like Mary Poppins’ favorite form of transport should do, symbolizing triumph, joy, freedom and creativity for all the world to share.
Freedom at last for the tens of millions who’ve been shackled by misunderstanding, ignorance, and stigma for centuries. Freedom at last to give all that we have to give, to develop all that we can develop, and to share with the rest of the world the immense and unpredictable fruits of our diverse, creative brains.
Hooray for Tony Lloyd and his merry band of freedom-fighters in the U.K., liberators all, benefactors of the civilization that gave us Parliament and Shakespeare, the greatest literature the world has known and an enduring form of government tailored, fittingly enough, to preserve freedom.
Hooray for their great work, and hooray for this world, so in need of good news, that the day is come at last where hidden gifts get recognized, unwrapped, developed and put on grand display.
Just go to Terminal 5 at Heathrow, look skyward, and get ready to fly.