It's already odd that no matter what I do -- whether it's therapy, teaching improv, philanthropic clowning, etc -- people assume I work with children. Well, I guess you could say that I work with people's inner children.
But this idea that people with ADHD or Asperger's are hopeless victims is a very strange notion. Yes, they struggle, and most of them have anxiety and/or depression (funny that I probably wouldn't get the same hero-treatment if I told people I worked at the Anxiety and Depression Centre). But ADHD or Asperger's is not a debilitating condition. Our most successful entrepreneurs, actors, artists, writers, inventors, geniuses and millionaires often have one or both conditions. People with ADHD and/or Asperger's tend to be extremely intelligent, creative, empathetic, outside-the-box thinkers and problem-solvers. We're capable of working harder, longer, and smarter than most people (when our superpowers are channeled properly).
You know what I think would really deserve the tilted-head, tongue-clucking, pity/gratitude stare? If I said I specialized in dentists.
And you know who else? Doctors. Med school is traumatizing. It requires sleeplessness, which is incredibly unhealthy. Sometimes they spend over a decade in post-secondary education, and it can take them years to pay off school debt! Then, when they're successful, they can't have a social life or pay attention to offspring, they have to work so many hours and occasionally overnights. Ditto with nurses. Nurses sometimes work harder than doctors, with less gratitude, less pay, and less status, despite that.
And if I specialized in lawyers, you should definitely pity me! They're probably really good at justifying whatever crazy behaviours or beliefs they have (as all humans tend to have), so they could be really bad at honest self-reflection. And they tend to work so many hours that they don't even know what self-care is.
Millionaires tend to be lonely. People expect them to be high-functioning and good-looking all the time, they probably don't have anyone to talk to about their feelings, or anything that doesn't match the presentation they're supposed to uphold. And it can be hard to tell who actually likes them, who only likes their money, and who they're friends with just because they both have money, with nothing else in common. If I specialized in millionaires, I'd probably hear about a lot of suppressed feelings and secret experiences, and trauma about getting to the top. If Citizen Kane's "Rosebud" moment tells us anything, it's that there's probably a lot about the simple life that they missed. Or, if they never had a humble childhood, being raised by wealthy people can be extremely high-pressure, emotionally negligent, and/or painful in so many ways.
I think the therapists who most deserve a medal are the ones who work with people who seem successful in this broken world. Because a) if you're successful in this broken world, then you probably have to be broken to get there (or as a result of it), and b) if those people are willing and capable of doing the work of therapy, everyone and everything they have influence over will be so much better for it.
But don't give me any credit. I get to work with fascinating people whose minds work in wondrous ways. Specializing in ADHD and Asperger's is the best.
By Lauren Stein MA
Therapist at The ADHD & Asperger's/ASD Centre (who is also Neurodiverse herself)
Book a free 20min consult with Lauren HERE!