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ADHD is not easy to live with. No one will argue otherwise.

But what if ADHD weren’t a disability but a gift? Would we feel better about ADHD and its effects if we could see it as something sought after, or even desirable?

Would that be a good thing to do, to put a spin on the way we see ADHD? Or would that just be a little game we play with ourselves, a way of looking for the rainbow after the rain or the silver-lining in the cloud?

After all, ADHD is a recognized mental disorder, according to the DSM-V. It’s not fun. And if it weren’t a disorder, we wouldn’t treat it with medication, or request special help for our children so they can get an education.


Should we make light of a disorder?

Should we be making light of that? Minimizing the impact of that idea? Besides, isn’t that a bit, well, dishonest? How could it be a good thing to lie about a disability?

On the other hand, those of us with ADHD look to famous people who have the condition for inspiration. People like Channing Tatum, Justin Timberlake, and Terry Bradshaw. We look at them and think, “If they could do all that with ADHD, then I can do it, too!”

Maybe rising to the top in spite of ADHD means more than rising to the top without it. In that sense, you could call ADHD a challenge rather than an obstacle. A challenge that makes achievement more sweet, perhaps more meaningful.

Take Olympic gold medal winner Michael Phelps, for instance. Phelps wrote a book about succeeding in spite of ADHD. “When I’m focused, there is not one single thing, person, anything that can stand in the way of my doing something,” said Phelps. “There is not. If I want something bad enough, I feel I’m gonna get there.”

Hyperfocus and Drive

Now what does that sound like? It sounds like drive. It sounds like hyperfocus. It sounds like something you need to succeed. And it sounds like ADHD.

Michael Phelps’ book, by the way, is entitled, No Limits: The Will to Succeed. Because as we all know, people with ADHD have trouble limiting their behavior. They’re impulsive. If they want to do something, they will do it right now, and no one is going to get in their way.

And as it happens, that is just the sort of attitude one needs to become a champion.

Michael Phelps is convinced of that. ADHD did not stop him from getting gold medals. On the contrary, Phelps credits ADHD with helping him realize his dreams. Couldn’t someone with ADHD then, reasonably conclude the condition need not serve as an impediment to reaching the top?

Couldn’t one go further then, and say that ADHD might even serve as a catalyst for attaining greatness and fame?

Perhaps the bigger question to ask is this: would Phelps, Channing Tatum, Justin Timberlake, and Terry Bradshaw be where they are today without ADHD? Did ADHD give these celebrities a leg up in attaining their greatness, their fame? Is it reasonable to conclude that ADHD helped them more than it hindered them?

If you agree that this might be the case, let’s now take this one step further: what if they hadn’t had ADHD. Would they be where they are today?

Could it be true then, that ADHD is something to covet? Could there be a gift there, lurking in the nasty, no-good, very bad condition that is ADHD?

True ADHD Comes With Impairment

Not according to Ann Abramowitz, PhD, an Emory University psychologist. In an article for Web MD, Abramowitz serves her truth straight up, “If a child has ADHD symptoms but is not impaired, we don’t diagnose ADHD.”

There’s some plain talk for you: ADHD, far from being a gift, is an impairment. It’s something that’s wrong with you. Something that needs fixing, something that requires help. By the way, in case you’re wondering about her CV’s, Abramowitz headed up Emory’s Center for Learning and Attention Deficit Disorders for over a decade. Her credibility is sterling.

And still, you’ll find other experts who completely disagree with Abramowitz. Take child psychologist Lara Honos-Webb, PhD, for instance. Honos-Webb wrote a book, The Gift of ADHD. She won’t call ADHD a brain “disorder.” She insists that ADHD is only a brain “difference.” She sees all these amazing qualities that are specific to ADHD, for instance:

  • Creativity
  • Exuberance
  • Emotional expressiveness
  • Interpersonal intuition
  • A special relationship with nature
  • Leadership

So she wrote a book, you’re thinking? That’s not quite on the same level as heading up a learning center with a focus on attention deficit at Emory. Maybe so, but Bonnie Cramond took that thought, the idea that ADHD comes with qualities, and ran with it.

A professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Georgia, Cramond reviewed the literature on traits, both positive and negative, associated with creativity. She found a great deal of overlap with the traits associated with ADHD. According to Scientific American, these overlapping traits include “higher levels of spontaneous idea-generation, mind-wandering, daydreaming, sensation-seeking, energy, and impulsivity.”

In other words, there’s an upside and a downside to ADHD. Do the positive and negative traits cancel each other out? It’s possible. But the positives are positives one might not have were it not for the condition—attributes you need to rise above average in your field in a sea of neurotypicals.

Psychologist Darya Zabelina, PhD, of Northwestern University, talks about this. Zabelina speaks of creative people as having a “leaky” brain filter which allows them to broaden their perspective, a mental process not unlike that of those with ADHD.

The ADHD brain flits about here and there and comes up with associations that would not occur to the average, neurotypical person, because their mental processes are orderly, set, in a word: boring. Their brains don’t let them think outside the box which is where all the creative ideas lie.

People with ADHD, on the other hand, can’t stay inside the box. Thinking outside the box is their normal thinking mode.

They, people with ADHD, are by definition, creative thinkers.

Flipside of Something Positive

Still there are those who see this idea as utter hogwash. Behavioral-developmental pediatrician Lawrence Diller, MD, for instance, the guy who wrote Remembering Ritalin.

“Impulsivity can be seen as spontaneity, and hyperactivity could be vitality—but . . . once you go beyond the mild, ADHD is the flipside of something positive. The children’s struggles with family, schools, and peers diminish the positiveness of it.”

He’s right. It’s certainly true that people with ADHD suffer aplenty. They suffer in school. They suffer at home. They suffer in their relationships. They have trouble remembering things, staying organized. They get antsy. They overeat. ADHD is no picnic.

But Honos-Webb says that focusing on the bad traits of ADHD is simply the wrong focus, especially for those who have ADHD.

People with ADHD, she says, should be finding and focusing on their gifts.

She says that we should think of the “Gift of ADHD” as an intervention.” Just by finding and focusing on gifts, people change in positive, noticeable ways. They feel better because of improved confidence and motivation,” says Honos-Webb. “They are not focused on having a disorder that contributes to them feeling like something is wrong with them. They experience real world results—including better grades, higher income for entrepreneurs, better work reviews, and marriages that go from difficult challenges to highly satisfying.”

Seeing ADHD as a Gift

Is that, could that be true? Could just seeing ADHD as a gift (even if it isn’t) produce better academic and life outcomes? It sure would be great to know, considering the fact that so many people with ADHD experience difficulties in school and in the work force and with their relationships, too.

It would be wonderful if just finding and focusing on the “gifts” could alleviate some of these quite serious issues.

Could just seeing ADHD as a gift (even if it isn’t) produce better academic and life outcomes?

It makes sense that having a positive mindset and looking for the good inside the bad would improve one’s situation, whether that situation involves ADHD or any other challenge. Anyone who has ever served as a mentor can relate to this idea. (Which is how this author arrived at this topic.)

The rate of ADHD diagnosis is increasing. That may be because we are better at spotting the condition than once upon a time. We now know that girls with ADHD go quiet. And we know that boys with ADHD aren’t just a “little wild.” We are way past that.

Summer Medication Issues

And the volunteers who staff TheZone, a summer camp in the Catskill Mountains in part underwritten by Kars4Kids, are seeing lots of ADHD. How well these staff members are able to mentor campers with ADHD still depends in large measure on whether or not the kids are taking their ADHD medication.

Henny Libersohn, TeenZone Division Head, outlined her predicament. “During the school year, kids with ADHD may have a hard time concentrating on their school work and are not appreciated for their personality. When the summer comes, parents may think that they should take a medicated child off of their medication and let them come to camp as a ‘regular’ child. While at times this may work, many times it does not.”

“There are behaviors that come along with ADHD and medication keeps the child ‘in check’ allowing them to form healthy relationships with children their own age as well as with their mentors. During the summer these positive relationships that are not based on marks or prior knowledge about the child can help him/her build self esteem as people appreciate them for who they are.”

“It is important to let the direct head staff of the child know that they are on medication so they can monitor medication use,” says Libersohn, who sees ADHD as something to manage, rather than as a gift.

The implication is that properly managed, campers with ADHD can flower at camp, not because they have ADHD, but in spite of it.

Not a Curse

Conversely, Peter Shankman, described by the New York Times as a “public relations all-star who knows everything about new media and then some,” absolutely believes that ADHD is the gift that keeps on giving. In fact, Shankman just launched a new website, Faster Than Normal (FTN), with a focus on illustrating exactly that point. Shankman calls FTN a space “where we know that ADHD is a gift, not a curse.”

In a podcast Shankman created with Brandon Steiner, CEO of Steiner Sports, the two explore what it is about ADHD that feeds their respective successes. Speaking a mile a minute, Steiner says, “I enjoy my out of the box thinking. . . out of the box, creative thinking. I’ve always had an awkward way of looking at things. I think it’s just about getting comfortable with the idea that hey, you’re not normal.”

Normal? Not normal? Or perhaps a gift?

The Bottom Line: A Brain Difference

The bottom line seems to be that people with ADHD may have a creative bent, due in part to the leaky filtering of their brains, as Zabelina suggests and as so many people with ADHD seem to agree.

The “creatives” with ADHD seem to wear their condition as a badge of honor, crediting the “brain difference” for their successes.

One wonders if this is a little disingenuous: would anyone choose to be born with ADHD?

Is it worth it?

Leaky brain filter and all, it must be hard reining in the impulsivity long enough to nail down an idea and bring it to any sort of productive fruition. Are the free-flowing, often disjointed ideas really worth the hassle and the pain of being different?

It seems it depends on which expert you choose, which celebrity with ADHD you decide to emulate on any given day.

Maybe someday, the science will firm up and we’ll know for sure whether ADHD is a blessing or a curse, but in the meantime, it’s pick a side, any side.

Because it’s anybody’s guess.

How do you see you or your child’s ADHD? Gift, curse, or something in between?

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As a former beauty editor, I pride myself in housing the best skincare products in my bathroom. Walk in and you're sure to be greeted with purifying masks, micellar water, retinol ceramide capsules and Vitamin C serums. What can I say? Old habits die hard. But when I had my son, I was hesitant to use products on him. I wanted to keep his baby-soft skin for as long as possible, without tainting it with harsh chemicals.

Eventually, I acquiesced and began using leading brands on his sensitive skin. I immediately regretted it. His skin became dry and itchy and regardless of what I used on him, it never seemed to get better. I found myself asking, "Why don't beauty brands care about baby skin as much as they care about adult skin?"

When I had my daughter in May, I knew I had to take a different approach for her skin. Instead of using popular brands that are loaded with petroleum and parabens, I opted for cleaner products. These days I'm all about skincare that contains super-fruits (like pomegranate sterols, which are brimming with antioxidants) and sulfate-free cleansers that contain glycolipids that won't over-dry her skin. And, so far, Pipette gets it right.

What's in it

At first glance, the collection of shampoo, wipes, balm, oil and lotion looks like your typical baby line—I swear cute colors and a clean look gets me everytime—but there's one major difference: All products are environmentally friendly and cruelty-free, with ingredients derived from plants or nontoxic synthetic sources. Also, at the core of Pipette's formula is squalane, which is basically a powerhouse moisturizing ingredient that babies make in utero that helps protect their skin for the first few hours after birth. And, thanks to research, we know that squalane isn't an irritant, and is best for those with sensitive skin. Finally, a brand really considered my baby's dry skin.

Off the bat, I was most interested in the baby balm because let's be honest, can you ever have too much protection down there? After applying, I noticed it quickly absorbed into her delicate skin. No rash. No irritation. No annoyed baby. Mama was happy. It's also worth noting there wasn't any white residue left on her bottom that usually requires several wipes to remove.

Why it's different

I love that Pipette doesn't smell like an artificial baby—you, know that powdery, musky note that never actually smells like a newborn. It's fragrance free, which means I can continue to smell my daughter's natural scent that's seriously out of this world. I also enjoy that the products are lightweight, making her skin (and my fingers) feel super smooth and soft even hours after application.

The bottom line

Caring for a baby's sensitive skin isn't easy. There's so much to think about, but Pipette makes it easier for mamas who don't want to compromise on safety or sustainability. I'm obsessed, and I plan to start using the entire collection on my toddler as well. What can I say, old habits indeed die hard.

This article was sponsored by Pipette. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Military families give up so much for their country, particularly when they have small children at home. Those of us who have never witnessed this kind of sacrifice first-hand could use a reminder of it once in a while, which is just one of the reasons we're so happy to see the beautiful photoshoot Mary Chevalier arranged for her husband's return home from Afghanistan.

The photoshoot was extra special because while James Chevalier was serving a nine-month deployment, Mary gave birth to their second son, Caspian.

Getting ready to meet Dad

"During the laboring and birthing process of Caspian, I was surrounded by family, but that did not fill the void of not having my husband by my side," Mary told InsideEdition.com. "He was able to video chat during the labor and birth, but for both of us, it was not enough."

While James had yet to meet Caspian, their 3-year-old son, Gage, missed his dad a whole lot, so this homecoming was going to be a big deal for him too. That's why Mary arranged for her wedding photographer, Brittany Watson, to be with them for their reunion in Atlanta.

Gage was so happy to see his Dad 

"[He] had no idea he was going to be getting to see his daddy that day," Watson wrote on Facebook. "The family met at the Southeastern Railway Museum for Gage to go on a special train ride... little did he know, he'd be doing it with daddy!"

Watson did a beautiful job capturing the high emotions of every single family member, from Gage's surprise, to the delight on baby Caspian's face. It's no wonder her Facebook post went viral last week.

"Caspian is natural, a very happy baby, but both James and I felt like Caspian knew who his father was almost immediately," Mary told Inside Edition. "He was easily comforted by me husband right off the bat and seemed to have an instant connection. It was very emotional."

The moment this dad had been waiting for 

If we're sobbing just looking at the photos, we can't even imagine what it was like in real life.

"We are all so blessed and take so much for granted," Watson wrote. "I cannot contain the joy I feel in my heart when I look at these images, and I hope you feel it too!"

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During both of my pregnancies, I was under the care of an amazing midwife. Every time I went to her office for check-ups, I was mesmerized by the wall of photos participating in what may be the most painfully magical moment of a woman's life: giving birth. But there was a painting that always drew my attention: a woman dressed in orange, holding her newborn baby with a face that could be described as clueless. The line above the canvas read, "Now what?"

I felt like the woman in the painting as I kissed my mother goodbye when my daughter was born. She came from my native Colombia to stay with us for three months. When she left, I realized that my husband had been working as usual during those first 90 days of our new life. My baby was born on a Friday and on Monday he was back at the office. (No parental leave policy for him.)


Now what? I thought. The quote "It takes a village to raise a child" suddenly started to hit home, literally.

After a few years in Miami, I had some friends, but it truly didn't feel like I had a village. Some were not mothers yet, most of them worked full-time and others didn't live close by. My nomad life left my best friends spread out in different places in the world. I found myself signing up for "mommy and me" classes in search of new mothers, immigrants like me, alone like me.

It seemed like a utopian dream to think about when my grandmothers became mothers. Both of them had 6 and 10 children and they were able to stay sane (or maybe not? I don't know). But at least they had family around—people cooking, offering help. There was a sense of community.

My mother and father grew up in "the village." Big families with so many children that the older siblings ended up taking care of the little ones; aunts were like second mothers and neighbors became family.

When I was about to give birth to my second baby, my sister had just had her baby girl back in Colombia. Once, she called me crying because her maternity leave was almost over. My parents live close to her, so that was a bonus. Hiring a nanny back there is more affordable. But even seeing the positive aspects of it, I wished I could have been there for her, to be each other's village.

The younger me didn't realize that when I took a plane to leave my country in search of new experiences 19 years ago, I was giving up the chance to have my loved ones close by when I became a mother. And when I say close by, I mean as in no planes involved.

It hasn't been easy, but after two kids and plenty of mommy and me classes and random conversations that became true connections, I can say I have a mini-village, a small collection of solitudes coming together to lean on each other. But for some reason, it doesn't truly feel like one of those described in the old books where women gathered to knit while breastfeeding and all the children become like siblings.

Life gets in the way, and everyone gets sucked into their own worlds. In the absence of a true village, we feel the pressure to be and do everything that once was done by a group of people. We often lose perspective of priorities because we are taking care of everything at the same time. Starting to feel sick causes anxiety and even fear because it means so many things need to happen in order for mom—especially if single—to lay down and recover while the children are taken care of. And when the children get sick, that could mean losing money for a working mother or father, because the truth is that most corporations are not designed to nurture families.

In the absence of that model of a village I long for, we tend to rely on social media to have a sense of community and feel supported. We may feel that since we are capable of doing so much—working and stay at home moms equally—perhaps we don't need help. Or quite the opposite: mom guilt kicks in and feelings of not being enough torment our night sleep. Depression and anxiety can enter the picture and just thinking about the amount of energy and time that takes to create true connections, we may often curl up in our little cocoon with our children and partners—if they are present—when they come home.

Now what? was my thought this week while driving back and forth to the pediatrician with my sick son. I can't get the virus, I have to be strong, my daughter can't get ill, my husband needs to be healthy for his work trip next week, we all need to be well for my son's fifth birthday. And so, it goes on. I texted one of my mom friends just to rant. She rants back because her son is also sick. She sent me a heart and an "I'm here if you need to talk."

I am grateful to have talked to her at that random postpartum circle when I first became a mother. She's a Latina immigrant like me and feels exactly like me. I will do it more, get out of my comfort zone and have—sometimes—awkward conversations so I can keep growing my own little village.

It may not look like the one I'd imagined, but still may allow me to be vulnerable even through a text message.

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Halloween is around the corner, but if you are like me you are still trying to figure out what to dress your family (especially the little ones), so here are some cute ideas inspired by famous characters. There's something for everyone—from cartoon lovers to ideas for the entire family!

Here are some adorable character costumes for your family:

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